Cliff Lee Dazzles In First Start: GM Ruben Amaro Looking Like a Genius

Cody Swartz@cbswartz5Senior Writer IAugust 2, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 16:  Cliff Lee #31 of the Cleveland Indians pitches against the New York Yankees during opening day at the new Yankee Stadium on April 16, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City. This is the first regular season MLB game being played at the new venue which replaced the old Yankee Stadium as the Yankees home field.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)


The Phillies didn't get Roy Halladay.


What the defending World Champions did get however was last year's American League Cy Young award winner in Cliff Lee, a tremendous lefty who could be the player to push the Phillies over the top.


Even better, GM Ruben Amaro managed to pull off a move that kept the Phillies' top three prospects—starting pitcher Kyle Drabek and outfielders Michael Taylor and Dominic Brown—all in the farm system.


The Phillies instead parted ways with struggling Triple-A pitcher Carlos Carrasco, along with three other prospects—starting pitcher Jason Knapp, catcher Lou Marson, and shortstop Jason Donald.


Considering the Phillies were able to bring in one of the greatest pitchers in the game today, it was a small price to pay.


It was especially impressive, given that Lee is virtually every bit the pitcher as the coveted Halladay, without the cost.


Lee led the AL in wins (22) and earned run average (2.54) in 2008, a year after struggling to the point where he was demoted to Triple-A.


Prior to joining the Phillies, Lee posted just a 7-9 record with the Indians, but an impressive 3.14 ERA, good for sixth-best in the American League. He ranked first in the league in innings pitched and batters faced.


In his first start in Philly, Lee was magnificent, everything the Phillies could have wanted.


He pitched a complete game, throwing 109 pitches while dominating the wild card-leading San Francisco Giants. Lee took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, a shutout into the eighth, and finished with four hits, one earned run, and six strikeouts.


His control was spot on as Lee walked just two batters and tossed 78 of 109 strikes. It was Lee's third complete game in his last four starts.


Lee also added a single and a double at the plate, while becoming the first Phillies pitcher to throw a complete game in his first start with the team in over a decade.


With the addition of the Lee, the Phillies have one of the top pitching rotations in baseball.


In fact, there are too many starting pitchers on this team. If that is possible.


Hamels and Lee provide the dominating 1-2 punch, with right hander Joe Blanton—arguably the team's top starting pitcher this season—as the third starter.


The veteran Jamie Moyer, who leads the team with 10 wins on the season, and the rookie sensation J.A. Happ, who is 7-2 with a 2.97 ERA in 13 starts for the year.


Don't forget three-time Cy Young award winner Pedro Martinez, who just joined the team and is working his way through rehab.


With Martinez to join the big league team soon, the Phillies have six dependable starters for only five spots in the rotation.


The odd man out will most likely be Happ, who will move to the bullpen, a decision that will only bolster one of the league's already top 'pens.


Returning from his injury soon will be right handed starter Brett Myers, who has already stated he will move to the bullpen.


Simply put, this Phillies team has depth at pitching like it hasn't had in quite some time.


Coupled with that already dynamic offense that features five All-Stars and a combined two MVP awards, the Phillies are looking good. Really good.


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