David Brown

Cliff Lee is still the coolest — and best — pitcher in the playoffs

David Brown
Big League Stew

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Come playoff time, Cliff Lee(notes) is the coolest rock star performing.

In the postseason, he's an all-star ninja assassin on the mound. He's in control. He's in command. Fastball, cutter or curve, he's in your face.

He's the judge, jury and pitch executioner of our time. And your team is guilty — of being retired in order.

Ask the Tampa Bay Rays. They know. Oh, boy do they know after Lee and the Texas Rangers beat them 5-1 in the deciding Game 5 of the ALDS on Tuesday night.

Throwing 90 of 120 pitches for strikes, Lee allowed one run and six hits with 11 strikeouts and no walks.

It's the no-walks thing that's so cool about him. Don't you hate it when your pitcher walks guys? Well, if your pitcher were Cliff Lee, you wouldn't have that about which to worry.

"I didn't walk anybody; That was a huge part of it," [Lee said]. "Obviously, a big part of their game is running the bases and being aggressive on the base paths, making things happen with hit-and-runs, bunts and stuff like that. By not walking anybody, that eliminated some of that stuff.

"Just staying out of the heart of the plate, mixing speeds. Just ... pitching, you know?"

We said that we know, Cliff. Hitting the corners. Hard thing to do. For most.

It frosts me, just a little bit, to hear all of this talk about Roy Halladay(notes) and Tim Lincecum(notes) and CC Sabathia(notes). Halladay's no-hitter was awesome. It's still just one postseason start. Timmy's 14-strikeout game was tubular. Just one game. CC, I don't even know why he's up here. Get outta here, big man!

None of those guys can hold Cliff Lee's candle.

Give me Cliff Lee, with his 1.44 ERA in seven career postseason starts.

Give me Cliff Lee, with his six walks — none so far this postseason — in seven career postseason starts.

Give me Cliff Lee, with his team's perfect record in games he has started.

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Give me Cliff Lee, who against the Rays finished with more strikeouts — 11 — in a deciding playoff game than anyone else in history. More than Bob Gibson, Roger Clemens and Sandy Koufax. Those guys.

Give me Cliff Lee, with his badass nonchalant pop-up catching ability.

Give me Cliff Lee, not even bothering to look at the last out so he could concentrate on being hugged by Bengie Molina(notes) (right).

Though his regular-season performance might have seemed off, Lee was pretty much his dominant self from jump street.

Did you know who led the AL in FIP this season? What's FIP? Ugh! Only the best way to measure who was, you know, the best pitcher.

It was Clifton Phifer Lee who led the league.

He's probably not going to sniff the top three in Cy Young voting, either, but he was the best pitcher in the junior circuit from opening day on.

And he's still the best pitcher in the playoffs. His results prove it. Hug it out, Cliff!

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Follow Dave on Twitter — @AnswerDave

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