Clifton Phifer "Cliff" Lee (born August 30, 1978 in Benton, Arkansas) is a left-handed starting pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies in Major League Baseball. He was drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 8th round of the amateur draft out of high school, but chose to attend the Meridian Community College. He was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 20th round of the 1998 amateur draft, but did not sign, but chose to attend the University of Arkansas. In the 2000 amateur draft, he was chosen in the 4th round by the Montreal Expos and signed in July of that year. In June 2002, the Expos traded him with Brandon Phillips, Lee Stevens, and Grady Sizemore to Cleveland in exchange for Bartolo Colón and Tim Drew.
Since his call up to Cleveland in September 2002, Lee had been a fixture in the Indians' starting rotation, winning at least 14 games in each of his first 3 full seasons and tossing more than 200 innings in both 2005 and 2006. In 2005, he finished the season with an 18-5 record and a 3.79 ERA, earning him 4th place in the AL Cy Young Award voting that year. In 2006, The Indians rewarded Cliff with a midseason, 3-year, $14 million contract extension through the 2009 season.
Lee's repertoire features a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball and cut fastball as well as a circle changeup and a curveball. He also added a slider after returning from the disabled list, along with increasing the effectiveness of his curveball.
In 2007, Lee suffered an abdominal strain during a spring training start, forcing him to begin the regular season on the disabled list. He returned to the Indians rotation in May, but struggled to a 4-9 record and a 5.38 ERA in his first 16 starts. On July 21, Lee hit Texas Rangers' right fielder Sammy Sosa in the head with a pitch on a night when the Rangers were honoring Sosa for hitting his 600th home run. The beaning sparked an altercation between Lee and Indians' catcher Víctor Martínez and led to a players-only meeting immediately after the game. Cliff encountered even more problems on July 26, 2007 where he gave up 7 runs in 4 innings. When he left the ballgame, the fans booed him and right before he entered the dugout, he tipped his cap to the fans. The next day, July 27, 2007, the struggling left-hander was optioned to Class AAA Buffalo.  He was called back up on September 1 when rosters expanded, but was not a part of the regular starting rotation.
Lee has started the 2008 season with much success. Through June 26, he has amassed a 11-1 record. He was the first Cleveland pitcher to win his first six starts since Greg Swindell in 1988. He also recorded his first career shutout on April 25, 2008 against the Kansas City Royals, allowing just 3 hits and 0 walks. As of June 26, he leads the American League with a 2.34 ERA and is tied for the league lead in wins with 11. He had the lowest On-base percentage-against at .163 through five starts since 1909. For his efforts and success, he was named the AL pitcher of the month for April. At the end of the season, he was awarded the 2009 American League Cy Young Award as the best pitcher in the American League.
In Lee's first career game with the Phillies, Lee pitched a complete game in a 5-1 victory. He took a no hitter into the 6th inning and had 2 hits, including a double and a run scored.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
- Unofficial Cliff Lee Fan Club
Fausto Carmona (September 2007)
|American League Pitcher of the month|