Feb 28, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Zach Lee (51) poses during photo day at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
2010 was kind of a big deal. There was some measure of hope that Frank McCourt wasn’t a big cheap dummy, stemming from the 2010 Major League player draft where the team drafted Zach Lee, Scott Schebler, Joc Pederson, and Shawn Tolleson (they also drafted Kevin Gausman). Giving Zach Lee 5.25 million dollars was unprecedented even for a first rounder, and ever since then, the unfair comps have dropped like hammers on his prospect star.
“The Right Handed Clayton Kershaw” became “solid number 2 starter” became “a high end Chad Billingley” became “AAA fodder” within the span of 2.5 years with him bottoming out in 2014 after his putrid stint with the Albuquerque Isotopes, he posted a 5.39 ERA 1.80 K/BB 18 HR’s in his 28 games on the moon and couldn’t break a rotation that included Kevin Correia and Roberto “Fauxto” Hernandez. I’ll go ahead and say that some of that putrid pitching was focusing on developing a specific approach to the game, getting groundballs and not caring about results. The idea isn’t terrible because baseball has no business being played at places like Albuquerque, New Mexico, or anywhere comparable (cough cough, Coors Field).
But here we are, 68.2 innings into 2015 of 2.36 ERA ball with a vastly improved 3.57 K/BB mark and only 4 home runs given up (half of them coming in one start) and he’s participating in the rare “recall debut” in which a player is called up, never appears in a game, gets sent back down and makes his debut in a separate game.
Since 2014, people have been screaming for Lee, with reason considering that the back end of the rotation has been a pesky pesky puzzle that has generally gone unsolved, but the two straight regime’s have been very conservative in his development so it has taken Brett Anderson‘s achilles almost rupturing to get him a start in the big leagues.
The good news for Lee is that his 2015 season looks a lot like his 2013 season where he put up a 3.22 ERA and a 3.74 K/BB in AA Chattanooga and was named at the back end of most top 100 prospect lists, and he is facing a Mets lineup that was absolutely SHUT DOWN by Ian freaking Thomas.
The bad news is that he is surely going down after this game to make room for Zack Greinke in his start tomorrow, but the way that the Dodgers’ starting rotation has looked the past month, the more quality pitchers they can throw out there, the better.