Phillies Top Individual Seasons By Number (31 – 40)
Steve Carlton and Cliff Lee are arguably two of the top five lefties in Phillies history
32 – Steve Carlton (1972)
The Phillies traded Rick Wise to the Cardinals for Carlton prior to the 1972 season, and the decision was not popular at the time among Phlllies faithful. Wise was coming off a no-hitter in 1971 and was the ace of the staff, having averaged 15 wins over the previous three seasons.
Carlton has plenty of credentials, however, as a three-time All-Star and coming off a 20-victory season. He pitched as if he had something to prove to the entire city of Philadelphia, putting together a season, and career, for the ages.
The big left-hander started quickly, winning his first three starts with two shutouts, striking out 24 while allowing only 11 base runners in 26 innings. After getting off to a 5-1 start, Carlton struggled mightily, losing his next five starts with an ERA of nearly 6.
Carlton got back on track in the biggest way, going on one of the best stretches by any pitcher in the modern era. Over the next three months, he went 15-0 with 14 complete games, five shutouts and an ERA of 1.67.
From late August until the end of the season, Carlton didn’t slow down, completing his last eight starts. All told, he finished 27-10 with a 1.97 ERA, 310 strikeouts, 30 complete games, eight shutouts, and 346 1/3 innings, all for a team that won just 59 games.
33 – Cliff Lee (2011)
Lee’s best season of his Major League career was undoubtedly the 2008 season with the Indians in which he went 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA, winning the AL Cy Young Award. Lee came over to the Phillies for this first time along with Ben Francisco on July 29, 2009, in exchange for Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson, Jason Knapp, and Jason Donald.
After going 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA in 12 starts with the Phillies, Lee was traded to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies, and J.C. Ramirez after the season. After a 12-win season combined with the Mariners and Rangers in 2010, Lee was granted free agency and returned to the Phillies.
Lee made the most of the beginning of the second tour of duty in Philadelphia in 2011, earning his third of four All-Star appearances. He finished third in the NL Cy Young Award voting posting a record of17-8 with a league-high six shutouts and an ERA of 2.40. He struck out 238 and walked only 42 in 232 2/3 innings.
Lee pitched two more full seasons with the Phillies before an elbow injury limited him to 13 games in 2014. After being placed on the 60-day DL the following March, Lee’s attempted comeback failed, forcing him to retire with 143 wins and 1,824 strikeouts.