Cliff Lee’s Back Is Bothering Him 32

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.

About Rob Abruzzese

Rob Abruzzese created Bronx Baseball Daily in 2008 just before graduating from Brooklyn College. He currently serves BBD as its editor and works as a reporter at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Follow Rob on Twitter @RobAbruzzese.

32 thoughts on “Cliff Lee’s Back Is Bothering Him

  • chase

    why would lee want to go to new york where he will be just another great player thrown into an overstacked and overpaid team where hell just be another pitcher instead of staying in texas where the people support their players no matter what and where he can get advice from the greatest pitcher of all time Nolan Ryan

    Dont Mess With Texas

  • Mike S.

    Greatest pitcher of all-time? Ok. 7 no-hitters. 5714 K. Did you know his 2795 walks is ALSO a record? 324-292 is a winning pct. of .526. A team with a .526 winning pct. goes 85-77 in the course of a year. I'm not saying that Ryan wasn't great. He was. But best ever? Please.

    Can you name me how many CYA's Ryan ever won? Guess what. You can't. Because the answer is NONE.

    Ironically, his best year could have been 1987, when he led the league in ERA and K and went 8-16. I understand the lack of support, but his 162 game average was 14-13, 3.29. ERA+ 112. There are many with a better ERA+.

    If you want the greatest pitcher, give me Walter Johnson. His lack of support equalled or surpassed Ryan's. Ryan won 20 games twice in his career.

    Johnson is 2nd on the all-time list with 417 wins. Granted, dead ball era. 19-13, 2.17 for his 162 g. average. ERA+ 147 to Ryans' 112. Granted dead ball era, but the guy threw 110 shutouts. No one else is CLOSE to that. I believe #2 has barely HALF of that.

  • john H

    Mike, where did you get your numbers, grover alexander has 90 shut outs! I didnt realize 90 was less than half of 110?? I want you to go out find someone who played as long as Nolan Ryan and was as consistent as he was over their career. I am not saying he is the greatest but he is probably top 10 when you look at what he did for as long as he did it. Also Nolan had 61 shut outs and he was 7th on the all time list.

  • Rob Abruzzese

    I don't think Nolan Ryan would even be in the top 10. And I find it hard to believe that his career wasn't at least extended by steroids.

  • Chris Ballard

    Wow, Nolan Ryan is not one of the top ten pitchers? You must value wins alot in your pitchers ratings. Be easy on us Ranger fans, we are a little skiddish when it comes to supporting pitchers here, they never seem to pan out when we get a big name free agent. I like Lee alot but he has struggled so far for us this year.

  • Rob Abruzzese

    Off the top of my head I would rather have Clemens, Maddux, Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Walter Johnson, Cy Young, and Tom Seaver. That's 7 off the top of my head that I would rather have than Ryan. If I dug, I'm sure I could find 3 more.

  • Chris Ballard

    Did you just say Ryan was on steroids? What an idiot. Nolan Ryan was about heart and putting all out every day for his team regardless of record and standings. If he had played for the Yankees you would be in LOVE with him. You said it yourself, 5 thousand strikeouts 7 no hitters 300 wins, in an era where the ball was so freakin hard you could drive nails with it. Talk about 1 to 0 loses, look how many times Ryan lost no hitters by one or two hits. You are exactly why people hate the Yankees, it has nothing to do with the team and everything to do with the fans. If its not about the Yankees you dont like it. What a Jackwagon!

  • Rob Abruzzese

    Yeah I said steroids, at least in the 90's. Everything you said to describe him could be said about Roger Clemens as well and we all know how that's going for him. I've always suspected Nolan Ryan was on steroids at the end of his career. How many other power pitchers pitch into their 40's?

    Also, I found 3 more pitchers I'd rather have than Ryan, Pedro Martinez, Lefty Grove, Christy Matthewson. I'm not saying Ryan wasn't good, but he's terribly overrated, especially by Texans. His adjusted ERA+ is a pedestrian 112.

  • Chris Ballard

    You can keep Clemens, He's a douchebag, Maddux would have been shy about 70wins if he pitched in the A.l. and Johnson pitched with a hacky sack. My guess is you never played the game at a level above tball.

  • Chris Ballard

    You cannot compare Clemens and Ryan, completely different people. Clemens tried to accomplish what Ryan did by taking steroids. As did alot of pitchers that came up idolizing Ryan. You answered your own question about pitching into their 40s, noone! Thats what made him who he was. Faced him when he was 46 years old and still threw 92. Dont think he needed steroids then or in the 90s. The guy was a freak of nature, not a freak of steroids.

  • Rob Abruzzese Post author

    I told you to get lost and I meant it. Last thing I need is some anonymous poster telling me about his playing career.

  • Mike S.

    Hmmm…a list I'd consider:

    Ford, Pedro, pre-steroids Clemens, Maddux, Smoltz (got to take the relief years into consideration), Randy Johnson, Palmer, Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Mathewson, Hubbell, Marichal, Carlton, Spahn, Alexander, Koufax, Seaver, Feller, Grove, Gibson, possibly Three-Finger Brown, hate to say this, but Schilling (the guy did come up big in big games, can't take that away from him),

    So would Nolan be in my top 20? Most likely so. Top 10? No.

  • Chris Ballard

    Mike, Palmer was my hero growing up and all of the guys on your list were dominant. Numbers wise there will always be an argument but Ryan will always be one of the best in my book simply because of how he handled himself regardless of what team he played for. I really dont see Smolz or Maddux ahead of Ryan though.

  • Chris Ballard

    See your side for sure, and probably might think differently had I seen the others up close like I did with Ryan ya know. But his numbers are still really impressive you have to admit. As was his presence on the mound, just ask Robin Ventura, lol.

  • Chris Ballard

    Thats alot of walks! Never really thought of Ryan as wild but its obvious for someone to have that many strikeouts they would have to make ALOT of borderline pitches so the walks kinda make sense. curiuos now to know what his strikes to balls ratio was over his career. But I would still put him in my top ten alltime. longevity has to count for something.

  • Rob Abruzzese Post author

    longevity and health counts for a lot in my book. Nolan Ryan is definitely considered one of the top pitchers baseball history in my book. But I think there is a decent amount of people who overrate him. But you are right, longevity and health are big. For instance, I think Pedro Martinez is a better pitcher, but if you're putting together a team, you might pick Ryan over Pedro because Pedro broke down so much and you can't contribute from the DL (unless you are Aaron Boone).

  • Chris Ballard

    Wow, thats rough….funny, but rough!

    Back to the original argument. I do agree with one thing (believe it or not) that if the Rangers don't shut down Lee and Hamilton, for that matter for a while it will be a huge mistake.

  • Rob Abruzzese Post author

    Absolutely, they have a big enough lead that they don't need to be leaning on these guys so much.

  • Chris Ballard

    I can only hope that his back is the only problem, because he has not looked good his last few starts. Maybe I am just gunshy though, 30 years of sufferage will do that to you!

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