Phillies (0-2) at Atlanta Braves (2-0)

Remember that time it took Cliff Lee three and a half months to get win No. 1? Here’s to hoping tonight doesn’t serve as a reminder, as the Phillies look for their first win of 2013 in Game 3.

Cliff Lee

As for his season a year ago, I’ll let ESPN Stats and Information do the heavy lifting:

“Of the 379 instances in the game's history in which a pitcher managed at least 200 strikeouts with lower than a 3.25 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in a season, no one managed fewer wins than Lee. Lee led the majors with both 11 quality start no-decisions and 15 non-win quality starts, and his Phillies afforded him 3.20 runs of support per nine innings, fourth-worst in the majors and considerably beneath the team's 4.22 runs per game for the year. No one has the kind of pinpoint command Lee does; his 7.16 K's per walk the past three seasons combined is tops in the majors.”

So there’s that.

The Phillies lost 18 of 30 Lee starts last season, and in 8 of his losses scored 2 or fewer runs.

Yet for all the peculiarity in his 2012 season, Lee’s actually fared pretty well against the Braves, in straightforward fashion: 3-1 with a 0.95 ERA in his last five starts against Atlanta, and 1-1 with a 0.60 ERA in 15 innings over 2 starts last season. The loss came thanks to a 2-1 final in which Lee went 8 strong and allowed just two runs (one earned) – off a David Ross solo shot to center.

Speaking of: Lee served 26 bombs last year, the 4th-most in the National League among starters with 150 innings. The Braves have mashed 6 so far, or one in every 12.5 PAs.

He looked shaky at times this spring – in just 6 Grapefruit League starts, Lee twice allowed 5 or more runs in a game and served 4 home runs total. But Lee closed strong, tossing 4 scoreless against the Toronto Blue Jays in the On-Deck Series opener.

In sparse opportunities, Freddie Freeman (6-for-19 with a walk) and Justin Upton (3-for-8 with a double and a walk) are a combined .333 all-time against Lee, while B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla have combined for 21 strikeouts in 53 at-bats and Jason Heyward (1-for-8) bats just .182.

So far, there’s been little question as to whether Lee can maintain his stuff now, entering his age-34 season. Kind of like there wasn’t with Roy Halladay…

The Other Guy

Crazy but true: the Braves haven’t lost a regular season start made by Medlen in over 3 years.

The rest of his outings haven’t gone too hot, for him or the team; vested with enough confidence to get the start over usual No. 1 Tim Hudson, Medlen was tagged with five runs (two earned) in Atlanta’s one-game playoff with the St. Louis Cardinals last October. (You may recall this bit of controversy.) Then came the spring: Medlen went 1-2 with a 7.23 ERA in six Grapefruit League starts and was crushed in his last two outings, serving up 15 runs on 22 hits in 10 innings.

Before that, his last 23 regular season starts – spanning back to May 23, 2010 – have all been wins, 15 of them decisions for Medlen, who’s won every game since losing his first 2 in 2009.

Still, whatever Medlen’s done, he hasn’t done it to Philadelphia: his last start against them came in 2010, when he was tagged for 4 earned runs in just 6 2/3 innings, albeit in a 7-5 Braves win.

Medlen has a 26 career appearances spread across 6 Phillies, so no use going there – only to say that in addition to his obvious talent, Medlen may have a first-timer-type advantage tonight.

More:

Chase Utley has 5 RBIs in 2 games so far. Ryan Howard, meanwhile, is 0-for-8 with 4 strikeouts. In his career, though, he’s 4-for-7 with 2 bombs against Medlen. Howard’s not the only hitless star in this series: B.J. Upton, too, is 0-for-8 with 5 strikeouts.