Notes: Cliff Lee and the long ball

PBR - Cliff Lee surrendered a trio of solo home runs in Thursday's contest against Milwaukee bringing his total allowed on the year to 22. His career high is 30 and he has a chance to surpass that mark with at least nine starts remaining this season. 

The graphic below indicates the placement of Lee's pitches within the strike zone that were taken deep this season. The only homers not included are the three that occurred Thursday night. The graphic shows most of the home runs Lee has surrendered this season have come on pitches hovering over the middle of the plate.

The strange thing about Lee's problem is he seems to be prone to surrendering a home run early in the count when he's ahead. Heading into Thursday, nine of the 19 home runs he surrendered came on a first pitch or on an 0-1 count. In similar situations last season Lee performed somewhat better, allowing just four of his 18 homers in counts through 0-1.

Lee's HR/FB ratio entering Thursday was 13.7%, the ninth worst in the National League. His next closest HR/FB ratio came in his first full season as a starter with the Indians in 2004 (12.4%).

How do you explain Lee's gopher ball problem this season?

- Patrick Gordon  is the editor of the Philadelphia Baseball Review. Contact him at pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com or @Philabaseball on Twitter.

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