A few weeks ago, there was some talk that Cliff Lee was the Phillies' third best starter, that he was overpaid, and that he's been a disappointment this season.
You can still make a good case that he's their third best pitcher. Is he overpaid? You can make that argument too. But as far as whether he's been a disappointment this season? His last four starts have taken that argument and flushed it down the toilet.
The numbers: Lee's last four starts have seen the lefty go a total of 33 innings (7, 8, 9 and 9) and yield a grand total of one run. He has given up 19 hits in that stretch (17 of them singles) and has struck out 24 against only six walks. Following a loss to Washington on May 31, Lee was 4-5 with a 3.94 ERA. Now he is 8-5 with a 2.87 ERA.
The context: Prior to Lee, the last Phillies pitcher to record back-to-back shutouts was Cory Lidle in 2004. ... The last MLB pitcher to throw 33 or more innings while giving up no more than one run over a four-start span was Roy Oswalt for the Astros in 2008. ... The last three major league pitchers to throw back-to-back shutouts are Cliff Lee in 2011, Roy Halladay in 2009 and Roy Oswalt in 2008. Good stuff.
Scary thought: Statistically speaking, you could actually make an argument that the worst of the four starts that Lee has had this month was yesterday's six-hit shutout of the Cardinals.
Totally unnecessary hypothetical: If everyone was healthy and rested, which Phillies pitcher would you want starting Game 7 of the World Series if it was being played tonight?