|Highest WPA||Lowest WPA|
|Cliff Lee||.414||Grady Sizemore||-.098|
|Casey Blake||.150||Franklin Gutierrez||-.079|
|Jason Michaels||.043||Kelly Shoppach||-.008|
As unexpectedly bad CC Sabathia has been, Cliff Lee has been unexpectedly good. Through 3 starts, his line is:
22.2 IP, 0.40 ERA, 8 H, 20 SO, 2 BB
We'd be happy if either Sabathia or Fausto Carmona had a start like this, but we also wouldn't be shocked by it. But Cliff Lee starting this way? The guy who had to beat out two other pitchers just to make the team? On a personal level, Lee has been a huge blow to my analytical confidence; how has the pitcher who was banished to AAA last season pitched so dominantly so far? It's not like he's really changed the way he pitches: he's still living off his fastball (76.7%), and there's been no real change in velocity (still 89 mph). But his control is light-years better than the last couple seasons, and, more importantly, opposing hitters don't seem to see his pitches as well. Perhaps it was the sit-ups.
Francisco Liriano, who's still recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2007, had trouble staying in the strike zone, missing mostly away and up. Assuming everything's all right physically, the Indians got him at the right time; in June or July, when it will have been a season and a half since the surgery (historically when pitchers get back to 100 percent), he'll be a completely different pitcher, again throwing his devastating slider.