The Cleveland Indians have made dreams come true for two National League teams and nightmares for most National League hitters in the grand scheme of two seasons.
In 2008, the Indians traded heralded ace and reigning American League Cy Young award winner CC Sabathia to the Milwaukee Brewers for several young prospects, including outfield stud Matt LaPorta. This move shook the NL playoff race, as the Brewers were riding with a chip on their shoulder as the underdog.
They already had a young talented ace in right-hander Ben Sheets. Sabathia proved to be worth more than the Brewers bargained for, as he posted jaw dropping statistics.
Sabathia’s 11-2 record and 1.65 ERA in 17 starts helped the duo become a force down the stretch, as the Brewers fought through August and September with a 30-23 record; just enough to taste the 2008 post season as the Wild Card contender.
However, Sabathia was overused in the latter part of September and showed fatigue in a Game Two implosion against the eventual World Champion Philadelphia Phillies.
Speaking of the Phillies, déjà vu came in 2009 near the trade deadline, as the Indians traded another reigning American League Cy Young award winner in Cliff Lee away to the City of Brotherly Love.
So far in four starts, much love has come Lee’s way.
Lee has more base hits from himself at the plate than runs allowed in his four starts, for starters. He’s 4-0 with a minuscule ERA below 1.00. Through 33 innings, he has struck out 34 batters.
Though he struggled somewhat with Cleveland early in 2009, Lee has proved himself a greater value than anyone could ever imagine. Phillies fans are saying Roy "Who?" after acquiring the 30-year-old lefty.
With a rotation deeper than the 2008 Brewers, the Phillies look to soar in strong pursuit of a repeat. It’s becoming quite possible with Lee and Cole Hamels as his partner in crime.
Hamels, who became the October sensation as NLCS MVP and World Series MVP will look to refurbish his recent lackluster performances. The rotation always has right hander Joe Blanton on the mound, young J.A. Happ quickly becoming a force, and the return of the illustrious Pedro Martinez, a former Cy Young winner himself.
Indians fans have not seen a World Series championship in 61 years. If anyone from that fan base had a desire to see Sabathia win it all last year, they have a chance to see Cliff Lee lead the Phillies to an impressive run this year.
Perhaps Lee and Sabathia (now with the New York Yankees) will face off in the 2009 World Series?