Justin Verlander vs Cliff Lee

Two pitchers have turned in ridiculous Junes for their clubs.  Both Cliff Lee and Justin Verlander were able to win each of their five starts this month while holding a June earned run average south of 1.00.

Verlander’s been phenomenal all season, but he was somehow able to raise his level of awesomeness in June.  The right hander went at least eight innings in each of his starts this month, and was able to log a pair of complete games.

His most ridiculous mark comes in the department Verlander’s known for, his propensity to punch out batters.  He was able to post double digit strike out numbers in three of his five June starts, including a 14 K game in his last appearance.

But what was so amazing about the 28-year-old’s June performance was not the number of men he sat down with a strike out, but the way he tallied K’s while walking so few.  Over his five starts, Verlander struck out a combined 48 batters and only offered four free passes.  That’s a SO/BB ratio of 12/1, videogame-like.

He held teams to five hits or fewer in four of the five contests.  His 22 total hits given up along with the four walks allowed adds up to a remarkable WHIP of 0.62 this month.  In the 42 combined June innings Verlander pitched he held teams to four runs, leaving him with an ERA of 0.86.

And then there was Cliff Lee.

Lee capped off his remarkable month last night as he held the Red Sox scoreless for his third straight complete game shutout.  In two of the three he was able to hold teams to only two hits.  Lee was also able to shutout a pair of the league’s top offenses in St. Louis and Boston.

But one is the most significant number for Lee.  That digit represents the total runs he’s allowed in June.  He, like Verlander, was able to log 42 innings, and if you do the math that has the left hander ending the month with a miniscule 0.21 earned run average.  Again, it resembles the mind-blowing numbers you see posted videogames.

The 32-year-old did not have one of his better months as far as strike outs go, but was still able to manage a SO/BB ratio of 3.63.  While Lee held batters to one less hit than Verlander he walked a few more, leaving him with a 0.76 WHIP.

Obviously, any team would take either of these efforts.  Both starters were able to pick up the W in all of their games pitched this month, which to many is the most important stat of them all.

But, which turned in the more impressive June?

Let’s take a look at each pitcher’s competition.

We already know Lee had to face the offensive juggernauts that have been the Cardinals and Red Sox.  Along with that pair, the lefty took on the Marlins, Cubs and Dodgers.  Statistically the Marlins are the worst of the bunch, with LA and Chicago sitting around the middle of the pack offensively.

The best offenses Verlander faced during his 5 game stretch were the Diamondbacks and Rockies.  The Indians are still holding near league average, but as a team have dropped off of late at the dish.  While the White Sox look scary to me on paper, their numbers just haven’t been there either lately.  Finally, you have the Mariners who right now sit last in the league in runs scored, batting average and OBP.

For those of you AL vs. NL people, Lee only had to face a lineup containing a DH once over his five June starts while Verlander was only able to avoid the designated hitter a single time this month.

Digging a little deeper, if you simply go off of xFIP, Verlander had the better month.  The right hander posted a mark of 2.18 as opposed to Lee’s 2.96.

SO, after much deliberation, Verlander gets my nod as the best of the best.  His WHIP and xFIP are lower than Lee’s, and come on, how can you not go with the guy sporting the 12 SO/BB ratio this month?

So let’s hear it, who do you think had the better June?

For more on the Phillies and Tigers, be sure to check out That Balls Outta Here and Motor City Bengals.

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