Cliff Lee – Greatest Post-Season Pitcher Ever?

by ThomasWayne

The list is a short one.

Jack Morris. John Smoltz. Bob Gibson. Whitey Ford. Curt Schilling.

These men are arguabley THE LIST…complete and immaculate. The greatest starting pitchers in playoff history. The question is…does Cliff Lee not only belong on this list…is he the headliner?

In 7 career post season starts Lee is an awe inspiring 6-0 with a 1.44 ERA, with 54 K’s in 56 IP. He capped off the first round of the 201o playoffs by striking out 21 in 16 innings pitched and walking no one. And he’s given a grand total of 6 free passes in those 7 starts. He is considered by many the one and only reason the Rangers have a shot at beating the Yankees if they can get back to Texas for games 6 and 7 in the ALCS as Lee will be there to take the mound late in the series and possibly shut down the mighty Bombers.

He has a lot of career left…and maybe a lot of 2010 post-season. But the question is…does Cliff Lee belong on that short list…or is he already there and poised to take the number one spot in that incredible rotation?

Let’s here those comments from one and all….men, woman, boys, girls and Cubs fans. Chime in.

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44 Responses to “Cliff Lee – Greatest Post-Season Pitcher Ever?”

  1. Chuck Says:

    Why did you invite Cubs fans? What the hell do they know about the postseason?

  2. Cameron Says:

    Short list that’s lacking Pettitte, Mo, and Sandy Koufax.

    Maybe, I’ll see what Lee does later. He’s good in a small sample though.

  3. John Says:

    Jack Morris:

    7-4, 3.80 ERA, 1.245 WHIP, 6.2 K/9.

    Everyone wants to talk about the brilliant performance in Game 7 of the ‘91 World Series, but no one wants to mention the fact that, the VERY NEXT YEAR, he was responsible for both Blue Jay losses in the series, going a TOTAL of 10.2 innings in the two games and giving up 10 runs.

    As for Pettitte? He has basically the same ERA and WHIP during the post-season as he does during the regular season.

    There are probably some people who kick it up a notch in the post-season, but for the most part, the more you pitch in the post-season, the more your numbers regress towards your normal career marks.

  4. Chuck Says:

    Geez, after a quick numbers glance, I can’t say he’s in the top 20.

  5. Raul Says:

    Yeah, I pretty much only care about the World Series.
    Where Cliff Lee has pitched 2 games.

  6. Raul Says:

    I’m more impressed with El Duque’s 2.55 ERA over 106 post-season innings, than I am Cliff Lee’s.

  7. Cameron Says:

    Fair enough about Andy. He’s as good as the regular season (still pretty damn good) during October, he’s just handled himself well during October.

    But I’ll still say Mo’s even better in the playoffs than he is in the regular season, and he’s pretty fucking good in the regular season.

  8. Raul Says:

    Even though the playoffs are a smaller sample size for Mariano Rivera, I kinda think it carries more weight for his career than his regular season numbers, simply because of the stage.

    Mariano Rivera without his playoff success is basically Trevor Hoffman.
    Hoffman’s had a fine career, but people don’t look at him the same way they do Mariano Rivera.

  9. ThomasWayne Says:

    For those concerned…Mo Rivera is not on the list because he is not a starter. I guess you could argue him as the best post season pitcher ever…but not starter.


  10. ThomasWayne Says:

    And just for your need to know…I added Morris to this list just to see if I could get some folks to bitch and moan…

  11. JohnBowen Says:

    And you succeeded!

  12. Bob Says:

    Perhaps you put Morris there to get comments, but he was also the first pitcher you mentioned. Actually, to be fair, Morris starts sucking right as the steroid era begins. Was it age, or was it the steroid-laden hitters which ruined his ERA? One will never know.

  13. Raul Says:


    Morris’ 10 inning performance is considered the peak of post-season excellence. People would probably bring that up before they mention Don Larsen’s perfecto. Just like Reggie’s 3-homer game.

  14. JohnBowen Says:

    People call Jackson “Mr. October.”

    Really, he was just Mr World Series.

    Career .357/.457/.755 with 10 HR in 27 WS games.

    Compare that with a .227/.298/.380 line with 6 HR in 45 ALCS games.

  15. Hartvig Says:

    Raul- Since I missed game 6 of the 1975 series the 3 series games I remember most:

    3) game 6 1986 New York-Boston I can tell you who was in the room with me, where they were standing, every detail of the moment when the ball went thru Buckner’s legs

    2) game 7 1968 Detroit- St Louis Zenith of my youthful infatuation with baseball. The principal of the school played the radio broadcasts over the PA during breaks between classes for the first few innings- if I remember correctly we heard a little of the pregame & part of the 1st inning & then some of the 4th or 5th inning & finally about half way thru the last class he just put the game on & everything came to a halt. We listened to the last 15 or 20 minutes of the game out in the playground being broadcast over the PA & on an transistor radio I had. I was a few months shy of my 13th birthday.

    1) Jack Morris- John Smoltz game 7 1991 I’m not a huge fan of clutch play & character & intestinal fortitude and all the other platitudes some announcers use but you could see on Morris’ face there was no fucking way he was going to lose this game. Absolute fiercest pitchers dual ever.

    I’m still really pissed off about going out for Thai after the 2nd inning of Halladay’s no-no

  16. brautigan Says:

    Don’t forget Babe Ruth. He was dominating for the Red Sox in the world series. In fact, Whitey Ford broke his record for consecutive scoreless innings (I think in 1961), which was a record for 43 years or so.

  17. Joseph DelGrippo Says:

    Um…I vote for Babe Ruth.

    3-0, 0.87 ERA wioth a WHIP below 1.00.

    He gave up a run in his first ever postseason (a/k/a World Series) inning in 1916, and two in the last one ever pitched, two years later.

    But had 29 scoreless innings in between.

    And he went all 14 innings in that first start, getting the win.

    Until the great Cliff Lee, who gave up FIVE runs to the Yankees last year in Game 5 of the World Series (in 8 innings), goes 14 innings in a World Series game, don’t talk about him being the greatest at anything.

  18. Raul Says:


    I read a book about the 86 Mets and heard amazing stories. I’m a Yankees fan, but my single favorite team might just be those Mets.

  19. Hossrex Says:

    Never any love for Hershiser. Why the hell does Jack Morris always get mentioned as a big game pitcher, and you NEVER hear Hershiser?

    Hershiser had forty more post season innings than Morris, his ERA was 1.2 runs/9 LOWER than Morris, his WHIP was a .150 lower than Morris.

  20. JohnBowen Says:

    I didn’t realize that the majority of those games came as an Indian, not a Dodger.

    I mean, it makes perfect sense, but you never really think of him as an Indian.

  21. Chuck Says:

    Well, at least Hershiser’s HOF chances are the same as Morris.

  22. Bob Says:

    In other words he will get 40-45% of the voters to vote for him for 15 years.

  23. JohnBowen Says:

    Year 1: 11%
    Year 2: 4%

    Morris: Still on the effing thing.

  24. Hossrex Says:

    Actually, unlike Jack Morris (who’s numbers are inferior to Hershiser in just about every way), Hershiser was on two ballots and done.

    Morris is STILL on the ballot, and while I’m not sold on the idea that he WILL get in… I still think it MIGHT.

    And remember… Hershiser won the Cy in ‘88, and deserved it in both ‘87 and ‘89. If he’d won all three of those consecutive Cy’s (keeping in mind the fact that he DESERVED them), he’d be a hall of famer right now.

    If the hall voters were better, he’d be a hall of fame pitcher… and you don’t have to change a single pitch the guy ever threw.

  25. Bob Says:

    John Bowen, I was trying to be funny or sarcastic. My attempt at humor fell short. But T.G.I.F!!!

  26. JohnBowen Says:

    Isn’t sarcasm on the internet tough?

    “If the hall voters were better, he’d be a hall of fame pitcher… and you don’t have to change a single pitch the guy ever threw.”

    Kinda weird, no?

    I wouldn’t vote him in based on his career numbers, but I would’ve voted him Cy Young in ‘87 and ‘89. And then, with 3 Cy Youngs, you feel completely differently about the guy.

    Incidently, the two pitchers who won those Cy Young awards? Closers.

    Hershiser’s ‘85 was damn good too but that was also the year Dwight Gooden had an ERA+ of 9000.

  27. Bob Says:

    The Mariners hire Eric Wedge.

  28. Chuck Says:

    “If the hall voters were better, he’d be a hall of fame pitcher.”

    No, if the award voters were any better.

    The Hall voters got it right.

    On both of them.

  29. Hossrex Says:

    John: “I wouldn’t vote him in based on his career numbers, but I would’ve voted him Cy Young in ‘87 and ‘89. And then, with 3 Cy Youngs, you feel completely differently about the guy.”

    Kinda weird, no?

    I totally agree that all things being equal, Hershiser wouldn’t get my vote. But… man… three consecutive Cy Young awards? That’s just such peak domination that you’d have to start being an apologetic for the guy, right?

  30. Chuck Says:

    Down two runs, walkoff bases loaded double for Brandon Wood.

    It’s only been a week, but the guy is raking.

  31. Chuck Says:

    Dizzy Dean is in the HOF.

    Don Drysdale is in the HOF.

    So are Jess Haines and Eppa Rixey.

    Neither Hershiser nor Morris would be the worst pitchers in the Hall.

    Close, though.

  32. Cameron Says:

    Dean and Drysdale are kinda borderline. Drysdale because of his high0level consistency and Dean off the Smoky Joe Wood Rule.

    Speaking of Smoky Joe Wood, what’s your opinion on that one Chuck?

  33. Chuck Says:

    Are you asking if I think he’s a HOFer?

    No, I don’t.

  34. JohnBowen Says:

    “…and Dean off the Smoky Joe Wood Rule.”

    Pretty sure you’re confusing Smoky Joe and Addie Joss…Smoky isn’t actually in the HOF.

  35. Mike Felber Says:

    Drysdale seems borderline at least. If I considered the era & team & the fact that his last year was at 32, I would suspect he would not hold up as well as the stats seem to suggest. Did somewhat more than Dean. Good stick for a pitcher too. Save me lookin’ it up-why did he suddenly do a quality nosedive & out of baseball early?

    Looks like O.H. deserved the Cy Young at least in ‘88 & ‘89, & arguably in ‘87. He is easily better than Morris, but not good enough in career value or quite in peak to warrant the Hall. 4 excellent years, but not historic/Koufax/Pedro/Clemens/Johnson years. Then his other years were at best good.

  36. Cameron Says:

    <_< I knew it was one sort of rule about enshrining a player who didn't have a ten year career based off the impact of the short career and what he could've been. I thought it was the Smoky Joe Wood rule, but it may be named after Joss.

  37. Hossrex Says:

    Drysdale is Schilling… except instead of being an asshole, he was that guy everyone liked (whether it was true or not, that’s the perception) who did a bunch of movies and TV shows.

    If Curt Schilling had been popping up on episodes of “Everybody Loves Raymond”, or “X-Files”, he’d be a lock for the hall.

    Still think Schilling gets in though.

  38. Bob Says:

    So do I

  39. Mike Felber Says:

    Shilling was better. And they had a very different career pattern, being consistently good from young & out by 32, vs. a slow start, excellent peak years, less steady production until later in career. Adjusting for era & park & peak, Shilling does more. And will get in, since the post season is the clincher for (most of) those who would otherwise be biased against him.

  40. Cameron Says:

    Yeah… I won’t argue with those postseason numbers. He just bitchslapped any team fool enough to take him. Probably the biggest example of someone going from good to great under the bright lights.

  41. JohnBowen Says:

    Unlike Pettitte or Morris.

    Who are basically the exact same pitchers in the post-season as they are in the regular season.

  42. Raul Says:

    Schilling was a juicer.

  43. Mike Felber Says:

    Well…due to greater IP, Drysdale was arguably better in his best 3 years. But look at his batting in ‘65: I do not recall a modern pitcher with so many PA who hit so well:

    Year ▾ Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B
    1965 28 LAD NL 58 138 130 18 39 4

    1 7 19 0 0 5 34 .300 .331 .508

    .839 140 66 6 1 2 0 0 1 AS,MVP-5

    140 OPS +, 7 HRs in what amounts to almost 2 full months of full time batting. A bit of a fluke, but impressive.

  44. Cameron Says:

    I dunno without looking up the numbers, but I know Warren Spahn had a good reputation as a hitter. …For a pitcher, anyway. Probably not that good in any one season though.

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