Part one of the Phillies homecoming in Cleveland didn’t go so hot, so let’s not dwell on the past. Part two belongs to Cliff Lee, who is making his first start in Cleveland since he was first dealt to the Phillies in 2009. It’s always bitter sweet facing your first team that you came up with, so Lee should have an extra giddy-up in his step tonight. Having that edge can work against a pitcher though, so Lee will have to temper his emotions early on. The team could really use a split of this short 2-game set, and ride out of town on a high note on their way home.
Cliff Lee (2-1, 3.03 ERA)
Lee has been solid in the early going, but his ERA has slowly crept up since his first outing against the Braves where he threw eight shut out innings. He’ll always be prone to a couple games where he gives up a lot of hits because he pitches around the plate, but his stuff has been solid and he continues to wrack up the K’s. He had seven in his last start against the Buccos, and shouldn’t have any trouble against the Tribe. Everyone in their lineup swung big bats last night, so don’t be shocked to see Lee serve up a long ball. So long as he keeps the walks down he’ll be able to survive.
Trevor Bauer (0-1, 5.40 ERA)
Bauer is an interesting story for the Indians. He was a top prospect for the D-Backs last year, and pitched briefly for the big club at the end of last year. Whatever the Snakes saw in him during that cup of coffee was enough to put him on the trade block. The pitching strapped Indians swung a deal for him, but he’s been up and down from the minors thus far. This will be just his second start, the first a loss to the Rays back at the beginning of April. He’s got solid stuff, but his command has been slow to follow. He’s just 22-years old, so it’s a bit early to write off Bauer, but he’ll have to start showing the Indians something soon before they start to lose patience.
As you would suspect, no one on the Phils has faced Bauer before. It’s anyone’s guess how they’ll approach the rookie, but patience early on is usually a good way to go. Whether or not this lineup can actually execute that plan is another story.
Lee hasn’t faced many of these Indians despite pitching in the AL for so long. Nick Swisher has seen him the most, taking him deep twice in 33 at bats. Lee has also had his fare share of success against the switch hitting Swisher striking him out 8 times. Lee should be mindful of what the Tribe did to Halladay last night and keep his stuff out of the middle of the plate. If he does that expect a vintage Cliff Lee outing.