It is not a surprise, but Cliff Lee’s season is finished.
Lee’s locker inside the Phillies’ clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park had been completely cleared out before today’s game against the Astros. He is on the 15-day disabled list with a Grade 2 flexor pronator strain, and he is going to rest at home in Arkansas for about two weeks before rejoining the team early next month for a reevaluation.
Per the report, Lee visited an orthopedist who confirmed the previous diagnosis of Lee’s injury and said no surgery would be required.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. commented on the situation, via Zolecki: "We hope to get him into a throwing program in October or November. But right now he needs to rest."
Lee has not been 100 percent for much of the season, as SportsCenter and ESPN Stats & Info noted when he left his last start on July 31:
UPDATE: Phillies say Cliff Lee left tonight's game with left flexor pronator strain, same injury he suffered earlier in season.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 1, 2014
Cliff Lee had his 4th start this season with fewer than 6 IP, his most such starts in a season since 2010.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 1, 2014
Considering the fact that the Phillies are in last place in the National League East, the decision to sit Lee out for the rest of the year is clearly a smart move going forward. The team isn’t going to make the postseason in 2014, and Lee is owed at least $37.5 million after this year.
The Phillies could have looked to trade Lee in August, but USA Today's Ted Berg points out that that's usually a bad idea regardless of health:
Lee’s trade history shows that trading him, traditionally, has been at terrible.
Check this out: Cliff Lee has been traded four times in his career, in deals that sent a total of 13 players back to the club trading Lee. By baseball-reference.com’s version of Wins Above Replacement (WAR), only one of those 13 players has been worth more than two wins to the acquiring club.
As a point of comparison, Lee has been worth 43.2 wins across parts of 13 seasons in his career.
Having Lee healthy by spring training wouldn’t only be best for Philadelphia’s on-field chances, it would also improve its financial outlook. After all, the team certainly doesn’t want to be paying that much money for a pitcher who isn’t even healthy enough to pitch long term.
Lee started 13 games in 2014 before this latest setback and finished with a 4-5 record, 3.65 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and unusually high .304 batting average against.
Check back for updates as they develop.