Phillies: Most impactful deadline deals of the decade
When the Phillies made their 2008 World Series run, they did on the back of the roster currently assembled supplemented by a couple of marginal moves. That was not the case in 2009 as they swung for the fences for 2008 AL Cy Young winner Cliff Lee.
With Cole Hamels struggling, Lee instantly became the team’s ace and lived up to the name. In 12 starts, he had a 3.39 ERA, 2.83 fielding-independent pitching, and 1.130 WHIP. His real impact came during the playoffs as he was virtually untouchable, allowing no more than one run in four of his five starts. His complete-game shutout in Game One of the 2009 World Series was easily the high point of the playoffs that year.
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Not only did this trade bring Lee in for the second half of 2009, but it was what allowed the team to re-sign him following the 2010 season and complete the “Phour Aces” rotation. The Yankees desperately wanted Lee, but he instead chose to sign with the Phillies as he knew what it was like to pitch in Philadelphia on a contending team.
Lee was an All-Star for the third time in his career and finished third in NL Young voting in 2011. The highlight of his year came in June when he allowed just one run in 42 innings, including three straight complete-game shutouts.
Lee couldn’t replicate his 2009 playoff performance two years later as he gave up five runs on 12 hits in six innings during Game Two of the NLDS. That was the last time he pitched in the playoffs as the Phillies never returned to the postseason. Lee continued to pitch well through the 2013 season, but injuries took their toll in 2014 as he never pitched in the majors again after July 31 of that year.
Lee’s time as a Phillie is somewhat overshadowed by Roy Halladay and the core members of the 2007-2011 teams, but he was still a crucial part of the 2009 and 2011 squads. Without him, it’s much harder to imagine Philadelphia even reaching a second World Series.