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Brushing Up On Cliff Lee

  • skipping everything else to make a train to get down to the game

Cliff Lee has been a badass this year.  And he's more than respectable.  But he's not going to dominate hitters.  He's picked up the ability to get groundballs, which likely indicates a newfound cutter that isn't being picked up/marked properly in the pitch f/x.  If I'm wrong, I'm wrong, but he's throwing basically just a fastball to everyone.  And it doesn't go especially fast.  It does have above average rise which bodes well for results and BABIP, but he looks like a strike thrower to me.  There's no count where he throws fewer than 50% fastballs, even 0-2.  This is a guy who's trying to work quickly, get outs and move on to the next batter.  His K rate is within his career norms and his walk rate has plummeted.  That happens when you throw just 32.67% balls on fastballs to RHB and 22.90% to LHB.  If there's something new in his delivery that's allowing him to to sneak more apparent velo out of a seemingly average pitch, I'm not aware of it.  There's no reason a guy like this should be leading the AL in VORP.  Honestly, I'm not sure what's going on here.

As for the Sox plan of attack, AJ should be on the bench again, but I'm guessing he's not going to be sitting out two days in a row.  Really, we should be looking to drive the ball the other way in the first couple innings in order to set up fastballs on the inner half that we can drive.  If he's demonstrating good control AND we miss out on some BABIP luck, he's going to be able to go a long way and the Indian bullpen should be able to manage that.  Hopefully we're able to elevate some pitches.  It's a good matchup for Q since he lacks a slider and it's a good matchup for everyone else because his change ain't terrific.  I'm somewhat optimistic, to be honest.  The Rangers knocked him around and we're hitting pretty well at home right now.  So I guess we'll see.