Cliff Lee had an up-and-down season in 07, but bounced back to have a stellar campaign. And until this season with all the publicity surrounding the Cy Young Award, he was a relative unknown.
Being a Twins fan, Lee, Sabathia, and Carmona had been a pain in our sides the past several seasons, having to face these guys an excessive number of times. Despite posting two 14-win seasons, and an 18-win season in between (04-06), the relatively small market club possessed a hidden gem.
In the era of the five-man rotation, the 20-win mark is the staple for the pitching greats. A 30-game winner is a concept that will probably never be achieved ever again, unless some freak of nature can throw 110 with a 80 mph yakker that would break as much as Yao Ming is tall. However, the physical makeup of the human body limits velocity to about the 105 range, according to "Popular Mechanics."
Anyway, the average healthy pitcher makes about 34-36 starts in a season. To win 30 games you would have to be a combination of these things: very good, very consistent, and very lucky.
So far, Cliff Lee has been all three of those. Lee doesn't quite blow people away, seeing that he isn't among the strikeout leaders, but he is the top dog in two of the "triple crown" categories.
Instead, Lee maintains his composure on the mound extremely well. His demeanor is like that of a machine, unfazed by anything.
Good batters feast on anxiety displayed by the pitcher, any sense of doubt about your "stuff" or sighs expressed by the pitcher lots of times leads to hits by the opposition.
Lee does not show any fear, and goes about his business. Plus, he is a quick worker, he gets the ball, gets the signs and goes.
Now, let's take a look at his line for the season:
20-2- 2.32 ERA- 4 CG- 2 SHO- 194.1 IP- 177 H- 53 R- 50 ER- 8 HR- 27 BB- 149 SO
He has made 27 starts on the season, and has only received five no-decisions. That's 81.5 percent of his starts are decisions. If he is set to make 34 starts this season, that means possibly seven more starts.
Doing the math, that means 5.705 of his starts will be a decision, win or lose. However, his winning percentage is 90.9 percent, so of the 5.705 decisions, theoretically he could win 5.190 of the starts.
Add all that together and you get a 25-win season. It's not the 30-game winners of old, but since Santana won the AL Cy Young in '06 with 19 wins, leading the Majors, that's pretty damn impressive.
Whether you like him or not, Cliff Lee is on track to becoming a great pitcher. Based on his current percentages, 25 wins is a number that Major League Baseball and the fans should be on the lookout for.