Lee confident entering possible clincher
After Game 1 gem, Phils lefty expects Rockies to adjust
DENVER -- Cliff Lee will certainly carry a sense of confidence to the mound Monday, when he has the opportunity to help the Phillies take one more step toward returning to the World Series.
While fighting off the nerves surrounding his first postseason appearance in Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Wednesday, Lee came within one out of completing a shutout against the Rockies.
When Lee takes the mound for Game 4 of this best-of-five Series at Coors Field on Monday at 6 p.m. ET on TBS and Postseason.TV, he'll be attempting to gain similar success.
- 2009 Regular Season
- Overall 33 GS, 15-12, 3.47 ERA, 85 BB, 198 K
- Overall 34 GS, 14-13, 3.39 ERA, 43 BB, 187 K
- Key stat 6 1/3 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 5 SO, no decision vs. PHI in '07 NLDS
- Key stat 8.80 K/BB in second half, 2.82 in first half
- Career 0-2, 3.86 ERA in four starts, 17 strikeouts in 21 innings
- Career 1-0, 1.00 ERA in one start -- fell one out shy of shutout in Game 1.
- At Coors Field
- 2009 8-5, 3.34 ERA in 15 starts
Career 18-12, 3.41 ERA in 41 games (40 starts)
- 2009 NR
- Against this opponent
- 2009 0-1, 9.00 in one start Career 0-2, 8.59 in three games
- 2009 2-0, 1.13 in two starts (incl. Game 1)
Career2-0, 1.13 in two starts
- Loves to face Chase Utley, 1-3, 2 strikeouts Hates to face Ryan Howard, 1-3, 2B, RBI in Game 1
- Loves to face Garrett Atkins 1-for-7, 3Ks Hates to face Troy Tulowitzki 3-for-7, 2B, RBI
- Game breakdown
- Why he'll win Pitched well at Coors and, until fifth inning in Game 1, had Phils in knots
- Why he'll win Past dominance agaisnt Rockies provides him all the confidence
- Pitcher beware A different pitcher from stretch. Command wobbled as he fell behind
- Pitcher beware The breaking ball can prove frustrating in the thin Rocky Mountain air
- Bottom line
Get ahead, fastball command
- Bottom line Must be one to make the proper adjustments
If he's able to find it, the Phillies will have a good shot of clinching before having to return to Philadelphia for Game 5, which if necessary would be played Tuesday night.
"I'm going to continue to try to do mostly the same sort of things I did last game," said Lee, who ended up allowing just one run in his 113-pitch Game 1 gem. "I felt like I was unpredictable then."
Even before his club gained a 6-5 win over the Rockies that provided them a 2-1 series advantage Sunday night, Lee declared that he'll be entering this start with a do-or-die mind-set.
"In this game, you never know when you're going to play your last game," Lee said. "So you've got to go out there and give it your all and do the things that you need to do to help the team win."
After being acquired from the Indians on July 29, Lee proved to be a habitual winner for the Phillies. During his first five starts for Philadelphia, the 31-year-old left-hander went 5-0 with a 0.68 ERA. Within this stretch, he faced the Rockies on Aug. 5 and limited them to one run and six hits over seven innings.
In his two starts against the Rockies this year -- the only two of his career -- Lee has worked 16 innings and allowed just two runs.
"I'm not going to sit here and say I think I got it figured out or whatever because I pitched good the first time," Lee said. "I've still got to go out there and take care of business. I'm not going to take anything for granted just because I was good in the first game."
Recent history shows that Lee won't necessarily be negatively affected by the fact that he's having to face the Rockies twice in five days.
During a May 3 start against the Tigers, Lee allowed the three earned runs and 12 hits in seven innings. In an eight-inning effort five days later, he limited Detroit to one run and seven hits. Five days after allowing the Nationals four earned runs in seven innings, he returned on Sept. 14 and victimized that same club with a six-hit shutout.
"[The Rockies] should make adjustments," Lee said. "That's the name of the game. If you're not making adjustments, you're losing ground in this game."
Lee's greatest challenge may come in the form of attempting to adapt to the thin Rocky Mountain air while making his first career appearance at Coors Field. While the elements have often affected the rotation of sharpness of breaking pitches, the Phillies southpaw may not have to be too concerned with this reality.
According to FanGraphs.com, Lee' pitch selection this year included 61 percent fastballs and 16.6 percent changeups. He utilized his curveball 8 percent of the time and very rarely displayed a slider.
"I'll go out there and pitch like I normally pitch," Lee said. "If I feel like a certain pitch is not effective, not doing what I want it to do, then maybe I'll use it less, I don't know. But going into it, I'm going to try to pitch my game and pitch the way I always do."
When Game 3 was postponed because of the snow and frigid conditions that hit Denver on Saturday, the Phillies adjusted their rotation. Consequently, instead of pitching a potential Game 5 with an extra day of rest Tuesday night, Lee will head into this outing with regular rest.
One drawback from this adjustment came from the reality that he wasn't able to stick to his routine of throwing a bullpen session three days before his scheduled start.
"I did have to tweak my routine a little bit, but I don't think it's going to matter that much," Lee said.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.