ALCS Game 3 Preview: Cliff Lee vs. Andy Pettitte

Cliff Lee has been a totally different pitcher since 2008. Before that season, he struggled against the Yankees: 2-3, 33 ip, 6.82 ERA, 23 K, 13 BB. Since '08, he's had just one poor game: 6-1, 58 ip, 2.64 ERA, 47 K, 12 BB (including the '09 World Series).

This season, he threw against the Bombers once as a Mariner and twice as a Ranger, going 2-0 with a 3.09 ERA in 23.1 innings. And in the very last game, Sept. 12, he shut down the Yanks lineup over eight frames (1 ER, 2 H, 3 BB, 5 K).

Lee's been a better home pitcher (by about half a run) throughout his career. Of course, that doesn't count Game 1 of the '09 World Series or Game 5 of the '10 LDS.

The Yankee hitters have a lot of experience against Lee, with a combined 354 PA vs. the southpaw for an OPS of .770 (even counting 10 PA by Greg Golson, Frankie Cervelli and A.J. Burnett). The man who's enjoyed the most success is none other than The Captain and leadoff hitter (1.081 OPS in 49 PA). On the opposite end of the spectrum is Robinson Cano (.464 OPS in 35 PA).

If his regular season numbers weren't strong enough, his postseason numbers are even better. In four playoff series (the '09 playoff run and the '10 LDS), his ERA stands at 1.44 through 56.1 innings, including a .78 WHIP and a K:BB of 9:1.

Lee has allowed more than one earned run just once since August (Sept. 23 vs. Oakland), and we all know how he dominated the Rays twice in the LDS: Two starts, 16 frames, 2 ER, 11 H, 21 K, 0 BB. Ridiculous.

The good news, if there is any, is that Texas has only been a .500 team on the road this year while the Yanks have won 65% of their home games.

 

Andy Pettitte has a long (and dubious) history against the Rangers. In 146 career innings, he has a 5.24 ERA against Texas. However, in one game this season (way back in April), he held Texas to two runs over eight innings.

Pettitte has not enjoyed much success against the Rangers' hitters. Of all their hitters with at least nine PA, only two have a sub-.700 OPS: Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler. The other end of the spectrum features Vlad Guerrero (1.100 OPS), David Murphy (1.144) and Jeff Francoeur (1.455).

We all know about Andy's incredible postseason success. He's the all-time leader in wins (19) and innings (256). He hasn't lost a playoff game since the '05 NLCS with Houston. His ERA is 3.87 but only 2.86 since re-joining the Yanks in 2007. He's allowed more than three earned runs in a playoff game just once since that loss in the '05 NLCS (Game 3 of the '09 World Series).

Pettitte has a 5.31 ERA over his last four games, but that's slightly misleading because in one of those games he conceded six runs in 3.1 innings (Sept. 24 vs. Boston). In the other three games his ERA is 3.18.

Unfortunately, Andy has fared significantly worse at home this year: 2.56 road ERA vs. 3.89 at home. The home ERA certainly isn't bad, but isn't close to the stellar road results.

 

The homeplate umpire is Jim Reynolds, known as being more of a pitcher's umpire. However, Pettitte does not seem to like Reynolds (or vice versa). In six games with Reynolds calling balls and strikes, Pettitte has a 6.90 ERA in 30 ip (and 1.93 WHIP to boot). Cliff Lee hasn't done too well either with Reynolds behind the plate, but not to Pettitte's extent: 4.34 ERA in 18.2 ip (though no games since 2006).

 

- And let me just mention how glad I am that FOX does not have the ALCS. As bad as TBS might be, it doesn't come close to FOX's atrocious sports coverage.

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