A few weeks ago I wrote a blurb about Cliff Lee and noted how many innings he was throwing and wondered out loud if it would carry over to next season. As it turns out he didn’t even make it that far before the innings total began to effect him as his back has been acting up.
Here’s more via ESPN:
Texas Rangers starter Cliff Lee complained of back discomfort after Tuesday’s start and flew back to Texas to be examined by Keith Meister, the club physician.
Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine said tests revealed no structural damage and that the issue was muscular. Lee received a trigger point injection, which the club hopes will reduce inflammation and allow him to stay on track.
The fact that his back issues are just muscular is good news for the Yankees and any other teams interested in signing Lee during the offseason.
I would also say that it’s fortunate that the Yankees didn’t land Lee at the trade deadline, but as soon as Texas acquired him they really started piling on his innings total. Although it might not have mattered as Seattle was piling on his innings as well.
From May 28th until August 6th, Lee threw less than eight innings only once and averaged almost eight and a half innings per start. His pitch totals in each game weren’t sky high, but that’s a ton of gearing up, stopping and starting each game and it does, obviously, take a toll.
Again, there is good news. Hopefully this will be a red flag for Texas and they will take it easy on him from here on out. If they do, because this is a muscular problem and not structural back issues, rest will likely help him out in a big way and if the Yankees do sign him this offseason, he should be fully healthy and ready to go next season.
It’s weird writing this article and being concerned for a potential playoff opponents ace starter. This is a special case though as Lee is going to be a free agent this offseason and likely the Yankees no. 1 target.