The Cleveland Indians' new ace of the pitching lineup as of the C.C. Sabathia trade in July recorded his major league leading 21st victory last night in a 3-1 victory over the woeful Royals.
Cliff Lee has all but locked up, and put away the American League Cy Young award in 2008. His 21-2 record with a 2.28 ERA is by far the best in the MLB. Lee stepped into the MLB limelight in 2004 posting a 14-8 record in his first full season in the majors.
In 2005 Lee had a stellar 18-5 record and lead the Tribe one win away from the playoffs, and finished second in the Cy Young race behind former Indian Bartolo Colon (Who Cleveland traded for to get Lee, Brandon Phillips, and Grady Sizemore).
Again Cliff won 14 game in '06, but also had 11 loses and a 4.40 ERA. After the 2006 season the Tribe tried trading Lee for an outfielder. At first they found one taker, the American League East bottom dweller Tampa Bay Rays.
A deal was almost made to acquired speedy left fielder Carl Crawford, but the Rays backed out leaving the Indians alone with a fading pitcher. In 2007 the Indians started hot behind the bats of Sizemore, Victor Martinez, and Travis Hafner. The pitching was anchored by long time Indian ace C.C Sabathia, and newcomer Fausto Carmona, along with Paul Bryd and Jake Westbrook and a phenomenal bullpen led by two Rafaels, Perez and Betancourt.
Unfortunately Lee didn't he had a 5-8 record with a 6.29ERA. He was sent to the minors in mid season, as the Indians came one win away from the World Series(if they had Crawford, I believe they would have won). Again the Indians tried trading Lee, but had no takers. He was almost cut in training camp and won the last spot on the roster.
A slow start due to injuries in the lineup had the Indians trading away C.C. because they knew they had no chance to sign him in the off season. Just imagine if the Tribe had C.C., Fausto, and Cliff. Three potential 20 game winners. That would be unbelievable, at least in Cleveland. Cliff wins by locating his pitches and by not walking batters. He is the fastest to win 20 games in a season.
The first since Gaylord Perry in 1974. His name is being put next to Bob Feller, Bob Lemon, Gaylord Perry, Roger Clemons, and Curt Shilling. Lee has shown in the past that he is capable of winning games.
My question is can he win enough to one day bring a Championship back to the great city of Cleveland, which has been deprived of a winning team since 1964(Indians last won in 1948).