Strikeouts Are There, So Are the Walks for C.C. Lee

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Is Lee next in line for some Callaway magic?

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C.C. Sabathia

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Cliff Lee

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Unfortunate.

Poor C.C. Lee had no idea he was combining the names of two of the best pitchers the Cleveland Indians have had in recent memory when he signed with the club from Taiwan in 2008. Unfortunately for fans, that’s just about where the similarities stop with the two former Cy Young winners.

Lee, a right-handed reliever who throws in the low 90s, was used out of the Indians bullpen 37 times in 2014. He posted a 1-1 record with a 4.50 ERA, 8.36 K/9 and surrendered 30 hits in 28 innings pitched. One of his best outings came on August 7 in Cincinnati, where he threw two scoreless innings while striking out three and walking none. Fans probably remember this appearance the most however:

Strikeouts have always come at an above-average rate for Lee, as his K/9 throughout his minor league career never fell below 10.16. Unfortunately his high strikeout rate has traditionally been accompanied with an equally high amount of walks. While his 3.86 BB/9 in Cleveland this past season was just barely below average, that’s one of the better years he’s had in his professional career. Giving runners free passes when you’re only throwing one or two innings out of the bullpen is never a recipe for success.

Apr 22, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians relief pitcher C.C. Lee (20) sits in the dugout prior to a game against the Kansas City Royals at Progressive Field. Kansas City won 8-2. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Now entering his seventh year in the Indians organization, Lee is still only 27 years old. Given the recent success of pitchers like Carlos Carrasco (also 27), Nick Hagadone (28) and Scott Atchison (38…allegedly), it is easy to see why Terry Francona and Mickey Callaway are nowhere near giving up on him yet. While he doesn’t throw gas, he throws hard enough with the near sidearm delivery he uses. Walks are sometimes more of a mental issue than anything, but even if it is mechanical, Callaway has fixed worse in the past (Ubaldo Jiminez). You have to expect the Indians to continue to give Lee every opportunity to succeed and keep him on the big club in 2015.

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