Our next top ten Dodger Villain is a notorious enemy of Dodger Blue, and has been for many years. This man could be the most despicable opponent we’ve ever encountered. Every time the Dodgers are on a winning streak they end up having to face him. He’s a pitcher, still active in the bigs, and the Dodgers have never been able to hit him, and probably never will. Not many teams can hit this guy. He’s that good. But he’s evil and we hate him so we trudge on. The pitcher I will be profiling next on the countdown is none other than the big left hander himself, our number six Dodger villain of all time……
6. Cliff Lee
He’s been like a quiet assassin on the mound. He never breaks a sweat while he’s been murdering the Dodgers throughout the years. Lee was originally drafted by the Marlins in the 1997 draft, but didn’t sign with them. The following year he was drafted by the Orioles, but didn’t sign with them either. Instead he was drafted by the now defunct Montreal Expos two years later in the 2000 amateur draft. The 35-year-old lefty was traded by the Expos along with Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips, and Lee Stevens to the Indians for Bartolo Colon, and Tim Drew. I have no idea why the Expos traded him, but Lee went on to become one of the more dominant starters of his time, even winning his only Cy Young award with the Tribe in 2008.
Lee made his MLB debut for Cleveland in 2002 at the age of 24. He struggled with his command a bit at first posting high walk rates. In his first full season in 2004, he put up a walk rate of 4.1 per nine frames. Ironically though Lee has been well known for his masterful control of the strike zone, and the next year his impeccable control began to develop.
Lee’s career walk rate is a scant 2.0, and the left hander hasn’t posted a walk per nine rate above 2.0 since the 2007 season. He’s led the league four times in this category (2008, 2010, 2012, 2013). He’s also posted some of the best strikeout to walk ratios of recent years. He’s the led league in this three times as well in 2010, 2012, and 2013.
Lee’s career record is 139-86, and his ERA is a career mark of 3.51. Lee is a four-time all-star and 2008 AL Cy Young winner. 2008 was perhaps his best year of his career. With the Tribe at the time, Lee led the league in wins, ERA, and walks per nine rate. That season, Lee was 22-8 with a 2.54 ERA, and 170 whiffs against only 34 walks in 223.1 innings pitched. The next season he would be traded to the Phillies.
During the 2009 trade deadline, Lee was the most coveted pitcher on the market. Unfortunately it was the Phillies who snatched him up. The Phils traded four minor leaguers for Lee and received him and Ben Francisco in the deal. Lee only ended up going 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA, and a whiff to walk line of 74/10 in 79 frames. I haven’t even discussed his disgusting dominance in the postseason that same season.
His crimes against the Dodgers didn’t start until he joined the Philies in 2009. His career record against the Dodgers may be just 2-2, but we all know that pitcher’s wins don’t mean much if anything at all. Against the Dodgers his ERA is a mighty 1.70, and in 53 frames, he’s whiffed 55 and walked just ten. In those 53 innings, he’s allowed just ten earned runs to the Dodgers ever. Ten! At Dodger Stadium, he’s been really tough as well. AT Chavez Ravine he’s posted a 1.48 ERA in four starts. In 30 innings, he’s allowed just five earned runs, and whiffed 27 while walking just seven. Lee has allowed just three home runs to the Dodgers in his life. Three. Amazing.
Lee’s menu of pitches includes a two-seam and four-seam fastball, cutter, circle change, and slider. Over the last few seasons, Lee has turned into an even better strikeout guy than he’s been in years past. Lee has whiffed 238 in 2011, 207, in 2012, and 222 last year. Lee’s career whiff per nine rate stands at 7.6. His numbers last season include a 14-8 record, 2.87 ERA, and 222 whiffs against just 34 walks in 222.2 innings. The guy is a workhorse too, posting 200+ inning seasons eight times. Lee has also thrown 28 career shutouts, and 12 complete games.
Lee has been especially tough in the postseason. The veteran has posted a 7-3 mark in the playoffs, with a 2.51 ERA. This includes two wins and a complete game in the 2009 World Series in a losing cause against the Yankees, and a magnificent performance in the 2010 ALDS for the Rangers. In that playoff series he won two games against Tampa Bay, and whiffed 21 and walked none in 16 innings. This brings us to his biggest crime against the Dodgers, his eight inning shutout in game three of the 2009 NLCS.
The 2009 NLCS
The Dodgers made it all the way to the National League Championship Series in 2009 with a team that was still owned by Frank McCourt, and led by troubled but impetuous slugger Manny Ramirez. Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, and Andre Ethier were young pups, and Jonathan Broxton was still the closer and fatter than ever, unfortunately.
Anyways, the Dodgers had just won game two at Dodger Stadium evening the series at one, behind a late inning comeback, and as the series shifted to Philadelphia, the Dodgers were hopeful they could keep the momentum going from their only win of the series.
But the problem was Cliff Lee existed, and was with the Phillies, and starting game three. What else can I say here? Lee existed. He pitched. The Dodgers couldn’t hit him. End of story. Even that doesn’t accurately describe his frustrating dominance over the Dodgers. Lee beat the Dodgers by throwing eight shutout frames. He allowed just three measly singles, and whiffed ten while walking none. That was all. The Dodgers lost that game by a score of 11-0. Lee even added a single and scored a run in this game as well. It was just unspeakably awful in every way. The Dodgers would lose that Playoff series in five games, and it was most depressing.
It seems no matter how the Dodger rosters change over the years, and no matter who’s in the lineup, they can never ever hit Cliff Lee. Lee rejoined the Phillies in 2011 as a free agent after spending a half season in Seattle and Texas. He signed a 120 million dollar contract through 2015, with a vesting option year in 2016.
Hopefully by the time Lee hits the open market in a year or two, he’s old and declined and gets no money. That’s what you deserve Lee, nothing! You son of a……gun