Two offseasons ago, the Philadelphia Phillies shocked the baseball world when they signed Cliff Lee to a five-year, $120 million contract. While Lee has since lived up to his billing on the mound, the question does linger about whether he'll be worth his contract in the long run—only this time, I'm not talking monetarily.
Throughout his career, Lee has dealt with many injuries, primarily in his abdominal region. In fact, each of the last three times Lee has been placed on the DL in his career prior to his current stint, it has been for an injury pertaining to his abdominals.
So when the Phillies announced that Lee was back on the DL again after his stellar 10-inning, no-runs-allowed loss against the San Francisco Giants, it was bad news for the team. It was especially bad since Lee, who's always had abdominal injuries on the right side of his body, tweaked his left oblique.
Per the Delaware County Daily Times, Lee stated, "I've had ab strains, but nothing like this." Talk about discouraging.
As a starting pitcher, Lee has produced on the mound and has lived up to the value of his contract for the Phillies thus far. But with a lengthy injury history that seems to have another issue piled upon it each year, will Lee reach the point where he'll sustain an injury so great that it could affect his pitching for the rest of his career?
Fortunately, Lee has only had one arm injury in the past, and that was just fatigue during spring training in 2006. But with Lee turning 34 this coming August, his body could break down as the years go by.
Will Lee be able to maintain his health for the life of his deal, or will he break down immensely year by year until he becomes a shadow of his former self? We'll examine all avenues of Lee's career that could affect his health in the future and give a "diagnosis" as to whether Lee will hold up for the next four or five years.