There was optimism coming from the Philadelphia Phillies when the team placed Cliff Lee on the disabled list ten days ago because he was merely suffering from what the team was calling an elbow strain, rather than there being a more significant injury. The team was hesitant to place a timeline to when he’d return, but the belief initially was that he would not be forced to miss a significant amount of time.
It would appear as though they aren’t quite so certain about when they’ll get their ace back on the mound.
Buried in his latest notebook at Philly.com, Ryan Lawrence spoke with GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and learned that the team is unsure when Lee will return after the veteran suffered a setback this week, forcing the team to shut him down completely. Lee was expected to be evaluated again by team physician Michael Ciccotti on Wednesday.
“It could be a month, it could be a month and a half, it could be three weeks,” Amaro said. “I have no idea when the guy is going to be ready to pitch. I really don’t. I would think it would be sooner rather than later, but I have no timetable until he’s up and throwing again.”
The 35 year old Lee made ten starts for the Phillies before landing on the disabled list on May 19th. He was 4-4 with a 3.18 ERA and 1.279 WHIP. While those numbers are more than respectable, Lee hasn’t posted numbers that high since the 2009 season. His 10.3 H/9 is the highest he’s seen since 2007. Still one of the top pitchers in baseball, it is clear that something hasn’t quite been right for the former Cy Young Award winner.
While the Phillies have struggled for much of the season, the injury also comes at a poor time. Should they continue to fall out of contention the Phillies could end up an active seller on the trade market this summer and Lee would have been one of their more movable commodities. He’s owed $25 Million for the 2015 season, with a vesting option for 2016. While a costly addition, Lee’s track record and success pitching in nearly every city he’s played in over his career could still have made him an attractive option for a team looking to supplement their rotation for a playoff run.