Dodgers starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu will have to protect his team Saturday as they face Phillies after a disheartening 16-1 loss.
Lee is 9-2 in 2013 with a 2.51 ERA and putting up one of the best seasons of his career, with numbers close to or better than in 2008, when he won the AL Cy Young award with Cleveland.
In 2013, he is the highest paid pitcher in baseball, with a $25 million payday. He is earning that paycheck though ranking second among pitchers in WAR, only the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw has a higher WAR.
Within the National League, he also ranks second in strikeout to walk ratio, third in innings pitched, third in WHIP and fifth in ERA.
At a glance, in 2012 Cliff Lee had an off year with a 6-9 record, but he was much better than that record suggests. He had a career high ratio in strikeouts to walks, career low in walks per nine innings and his ERA was just 3.16.
In 46 career innings against the Dodgers, Lee has allowed just four runs. Unless the bats that the Dodgers flashed in the last week against San Diego and San Francisco show up, it could be another low-scoring night in Los Angeles.
As if facing their ace was not enough, the Philles are swinging some hot bats with 35 hits combined in two games against the Dodgers this series. Ryu, who is matched up against Lee, is consistent, but gives up a lot of singles, and relies on a lot of double plays when his control is not on point.
“When you face a guy like Cliff Lee, your guy has got to give you a chance to stay in the game,” Mattingly said on Saturday. You have to “keep it close enough where one mistake here, one mistake there (by Lee) changes the game.”
If Ryu cannot contain the Phillies bats, the Dodgers will not be able to capitalize on Lee’s misgivings.
You “have to able to take advantage and be in a position where it matters,” Mattingly emphasized.
If the Dodgers can score on Lee, or get him out of the game early to rough up the bullpen, and hold on for the win, they will have won seven of eight games.
But it will be tough bouncing back from Friday’s 16-1 loss against Cliff Lee.