A Closer Look at Lee’s Masterpiece

Last night’s 10 innings of wonder were just the latest installments to a Phillies season that
has seen some great things on the rubber. Lee collected a bunch of trivia footnotes in going
10 scoreless innings, ultimately yielding after 102 pitches and no run support. His was the
best outing by a Phillies pitcher since Roy Halladay’s NLDS no-no (in this writer’s opinion), with the only thing missing being a win.

We could harp on managerial strategy and lament the missed chance at a win, but I’ll choose instead to delve a bit deeper into Lee’s work and see just what made him so successful in San Francisco Wednesday.

  • Up, Up and Away (Literally)

Lee only faced seven lefties in last night’s start, but he seemed to favor an unusual approach when confronting them: throwing up and out of the zone.

Of the 20 pitches he threw to lefty batters Nate Schierholtz and Brandon Crawford – an average under three pitches per PA – Lee threw 12 out of the zone, inducing seven total swings and three whiffs. Schierholtz and Crawford went 0-for-7 against Lee, swinging at pitches out of their comfort zones. Crawford, for his career, his a bit more of a tendency to chase pitches in that area, but neither he nor Schierholtz could really be considered free swingers when it comes to that particular zone.

  •  A Perfect Curve
Lee’s curveball was excellent Wednesday, and that might be putting it mildly. Only 16 of the 102 pitches were of the curved variety, but each one was perplexing to Giants hitters.
Throwing it mostly to righties, Lee arced his curve just right often enough to catch the lower outside edge of the plate. He didn’t register any Ks against a RHB with the pitch (he did have one against Schierholtz in the 2nd). but he kept them off-balance enough to keep working ahead in the count.
  • Man at Work
As mentioned above, Lee did a lot of pitching in favorable counts, but even when he fell behind, he didn’t stay that way for long. Lee threw 25 first-pitch strikes to 34 batters, meaning he started 1-0 on just nine hitters. Bearing that in mind, consider how impressive this next figure is: Lee needed to throw just 12 total pitches in hitters’ counts (1-0, 2-0, 2-1, 3-0, 3-1) Wednesday, and 11 of those were thrown for strikes. Lee did not have a single three-ball count, which will also typically work heavily in a pitcher’s favor.
Lee’s outing was a special performance that deserved a better fate, but should still be remembered as likely the season’s finest effort by a Philly pitcher to date and one that will be hard to top by season’s end.

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  1. Mr. Bronski

    April 19, 2012 04:06 PM

    Paul, at the risk of sounding demanding, I’d love to see a similar analysis of Cain’s outing. He pitched a hell of a game too, and it’d be interesting to see how their mediocre lineup facing our elite pitching compares with OUR mediocre lineup facing THEIR elite pitching. Is there a Giants blog out there that does fine work such as this?

  2. Paul Boye

    April 19, 2012 05:25 PM

    Appreciate the kind words, and I think the best direction to point you in would be Wendy Thurm (@hangingsliders). No guarantees, but I’d start there. I think she’d have access to TruMedia stuff if she chose to use it.

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