Latest in a series of scouting reports provided to SI.com by the network of former players, coaches, scouts and executives at the Baseline Group. For a report on AL Rookie of the Year Evan Longoria, click here.
• Elite: top one or two pitchers in the game (Roy Halladay)
• Premium: top ten pitcher (Jake Peavy,Dan Haren)
• Good: top of the rotation guy; occasional All-Star (Daisuke Matsuzaka, Mike Mussina)
• Average: back of the rotation guy (Oliver Perez, Jarrod Washburn)
• Key role: occasional starter (Julian Tavarez -- 2006-2007)
• 1st in Wins (22)
• 1st in ERA (2.54)
• 1st in Won-Loss % (.880)
• 2nd in WHIP (1.110)
• 5th in K/9 (8.09)
• 2nd in Innings (223.3)
• 1st in Adjusted ERA (175)
Compare that performance to his 2007: 5-8 with a 6.29 ERA, 1.521 WHIP and 73 ERA+. Lee suffered in 2007 because he was inconsistent with his approach on the mound. He didn't have a pitching plan and/or he didn't stick with the plan. He was simply throwing the ball and hoping he got outs. Unless you're a very physically gifted pitcher (one who throws in the upper 90's), which Lee is not, your performance is going to suffer.
In 2008 Lee had that consistent approach -- the way he watched the opposition, evaluated himself and trusted the things he does well. He had a plan and stuck with it. It's an old school scouting term, but Lee experienced "development" in 2008.
Though Lee had a premium year, he is not categorized as a premium pitcher. To do so he needs to demonstrate that he can repeat this level of performance.
• Creates a plus angle
• Very good command of his pitches
• Above average fastball and slider
• Holds runners close --difficult to run on
• Not overpowering
• No legitimate outpitch
• Movement: Will show cut action over the plate and to gloveside; uses a two-seam fastball with small sink to armside.
• Command: Shows plus command to both sides of the plate; it is his best asset; uses this pitch inside off the plate to right-handed hitters
• Movement: Small depth and break; below average movement
• Command: Good command; shows best command to his gloveside; this pitch is used best off the plate as a backfoot slider to right-handed hitters
• Plan: Used as an outpitch and swing and miss pitch; very effective when he works at a good quick pace.
• Movement: Small sink to his arm side; average movement.
• Command: Good command; capable of using this pitch in and out of the strike zone.
• Plan: He'll use it when ahead of the hitters as an outpitch; he likes to set up his changeup with a cut fastball inside off the plate to right-handed hitters; he doesn't like to use this pitch first time around the order unless he's in trouble.
• Movement: Big 1-7 type break with good depth and average break.
• Command: Thrown to both sides of the plate for strikes but commanded best to his gloveside; doesn't use it as much as an outpitch as for strikes in middle counts
• Whether he has runners on base or not, he likes to start left-handed hitters away with either a fastball or cut fastball.
• He'll pitch in off the plate more effectively to right-handed hitters than lefties.
• We have not seen him throw two strikes of the same type in the same location back to back very often.
• Good fielder. He gets off the mound well to both sides.
• Better than average pick-off move to first base and will give an extra look with runners on second.
• Doesn't use a slide step to the plate, but it's a very quick move (slight lift prior to going home).
• With no runners on base: Establishes his fastball; uses his off-speed in middle counts; pitches to contact with his fastball or cut fastball.
• With runners in scoring position: Uses off-speed early; hard in middle counts off the plate; finishes with off-speed