Cliff Lee Unlikely to Return Next Friday, Phillies Will Stick with Kyle Kendrick

Kenny DeJohnAnalyst IIIApril 29, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 18:  Cliff Lee #33 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on April 18, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Things seem to be going from bad to worse for Cliff Lee.

The Philadelphia Phillies' co-co-ace tossed ten innings of shutout ball in his last start against Matt Cain and the Giants on April 18.

He was subsequently sent to the disabled list just a few days later with a strained left oblique that he suffered while pitching in the 10th inning of that game.

Initial reports suggested that Lee would be able to return on May 4—the first day he would be eligible to return—but now that seems like more of a dream than a reality.

Lee claimed that his long toss on Saturday did not aggravate his oblique, but he also acknowledged the fact that he may not be ready by May 4.

"Haven’t thrown off a mound so I doubt that’s going to happen," he said before Sunday's game. "But I don’t know."

If Lee wanted to pitch that day in Washington, he'd likely have to pitch a bullpen session on Tuesday.

In the meantime, Kyle Kendrick will continue to assume Lee's spot in the rotation.

Unfortunately for the Phillies, that may not be conducive to winning.

In his first fill-in start for Lee, Kendrick tossed just three innings. He allowed seven runs on 11 hits and one walk, and even saw his ERA jump from 1.93 to 9.39.

Kendrick has been a very effective relief pitcher this season, but he'll be asked to do more until Lee returns.

Hopefully, that'll be sooner rather than later.