Monday, September 5, 2011
Cliff Lee among three vying for Cy Young
By Mark Simon
The Philadelphia Phillies have lost 15 of their last 18 Labor Day games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only the Tampa Bay Rays (1–8) have a worse record on Labor Day than the Phillies over the last 20 years.
But the Phillies do have Cliff Lee (15-7) going tonight against the Atlanta Braves. Although he is 0-2 this season against the Braves, Lee has won six straight starts.
Lee is one of a handful of pitchers who are in a tight race for the National League Cy Young award. When you remove wins and losses, there are three pitchers -- Lee, Roy Halladay and the Los Angeles Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw -- who are virtually statistical triplets.
Another way to look at these three is with a metric called “Expected Team Winning Percentage” or xWin Percentage. (xWin Percentage determines how frequently a starting pitcher’s team should win and is based on game-by-game performance. It uses innings pitched and earned runs to establish team win probability.)
Among National League pitchers with at least 20 starts, Lee's teammate Halladay has the highest Expected Team Winning Percentage at .681. Kershaw is fourth (.667) and Lee is sixth (.635).
Halladay outranks Kershaw because he has the ability to avoid the bad start. Halladay has only four starts in which he’s allowed four runs or more. Kershaw has six such starts and Lee has seven.