Thursday, March 4, 2010

New Face, New Place: Cliff Lee, Mariners

Normally a pitcher who's moving from the NL to the AL is due for a little bit of a downgrade. That's just something that comes with the tougher, DH-included lineups of the Junior Circuit.

But will it be the case for Cliff Lee?

Lee was phenomenal last year as a late-season acquisition by the Phillies, leading them all the way to the World Series. Now he's a little ticked that the Phils decided to get rid of him this offseason, trading him to the Mariners and acquiring Roy Halladay in his place.

Lee pitched to a 3.39 ERA in 12 starts for Philly and was even better in their hitter-friendly home stadium, Citizens Bank Park, posting a 2.52 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in five starts. And now he's moving back to the AL, where he spent his entire career with the Indians prior to last summer's deal and won a Cy Young in 2008. His new team's offense won't be nearly as good as the slugging Phillies (Seattle was one of the league's worst offensive teams in 2009), but he'll have a stellar defense behind him and the benefit of pitcher-friendly Safeco Field.

I expect Lee to be every bit as good in Seattle as he's been the past couple seasons. He's easily a top 10 fantasy pitcher in 2010.

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