Friday, April 30, 2010

Start or Sit: Cliff Lee vs Rangers

RT @deannaingeno: LIKE OMG, that Cliff Lee guy is back tonight? Let's all freak out over nothing! *Sigh*
I do hope no one is out there "freak[ing] out" about Cliff Lee making his 2010 season and Seattle debut for the Mariners. It's an exciting and intriguing event for Mariners and baseball fans alike, but it's not that big of a deal. But I'll admit that it'll be an interesting start one way or another.

Cliff Lee's first assignment as an M's could turn out to be a tough one. Let's break it down by various factors.

Cliff Lee vs Texas Rangers Batters
Not only does the Texas Rangers bats have pretty good career numbers against the M's newly-acquired southpaw, across the lineup, from the veterans (Vladimir Guerrero and Michael Young), to the relatively new (Ian Kinsler and Josh Hamilton), and even the part-timers with small sample sizes.

Cliff Lee vs Texas Rangers
Throughout Lee's career, he's mostly struggled against the Rangers, allowing a robust .311 BAA and 1.62 WHIP, but managed a 5-3 record in eight starts, thanks in part to the Cleveland Indians teams that used to put up runs on the board.

Of the three quality starts in eight appearances, two of them game at home (Cleveland), the only games in which the Rangers were visitors, which suggests that Lee was victimized by the offense-friendly confines of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, and could benefit from the pitcher-friendly Safeco Field.

Trends and Injuries
Despite Nelson Cruz nursing his tender little hammy on the DL, the Rangers are ranked 5th in runs scored during the past seven days and Ian Kinsler will make his 2010 debut (he had a nice little warm-up game on Wednesday for the Double-A Frisco with two singles and a stolen base).

Lee is finally off the 15-Day DL (strained oblique) after having missed five starts, he'll make his 2010 debut. He sparkled in his rehab start on Sunday for Class AAA Tacoma (six shutout innings), but the difference between MLB and AAA may make a large impact on the tonight's numbers.

Opposing Pitcher
The Rangers' Colby Lewis will be on the mound opposing the M's bats and in his first start of the 2010 season, he held the M's to just one earned run, while allowing nine base runners in seven innings for the 6-2 win at home. Despite allowing four earned runs in his last outing on 4/25 against the Detroit Tigers, Lewis still struck out ten batters, the second time he's accomplished the feat (4/14 @CLE) in the young season.

It will be interesting to see how many runs Lewis gives up tonight, as he has given up one more run in each of his four starts, starting with one. Will it be five runs or does the count get reset to one, since it's he's facing the M's again?

The Call: Start or Sit?
I'm not taking any chances and sitting Lee. I foresee Lee giving up a good amount of hits and I don't like the chances of M's scoring too many runs tonight, so it'll be a reach for me to hope for a low WHIP win from Lee. I'm glad he's finally off the DL and can do something for the M's and my FT in the long run, but I'll let him get his "spring training" in on his own time and on my bench.

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