Not everyone has the same path to becoming one of the game’s best pitchers. You could go the Tim Lincecum route and win back to back Cy Youngs in your first two full seasons, the Chris Carpenter route and reinvent yourself after an injury riddled start to your career, or another option would be to follow the Roy Halladay path and do it in complete anonymity. Then there’s the Cliff Lee plan, which makes no sense whatsoever:
- Get drafted three times, making sure to evenly progress from an 8th round pick to a 20th round pick to a 4th round pick.
- Pitch well in the minors and become a highly regarded prospect.
- Be a part of the greatest package of prospects ever traded at the deadline (Lee, Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips) for a very overweighted pitcher (see what I did there?).
- Be very mediocre over the next 6 seasons (2002-2007: 4.64 era, 1.38 whip)
- Become so frustrated that you throw your glove into the stands after being yanked from a game.
- Get demoted to AAA during your sixth season in the majors.
- Win a Cy Young at age 29 in the season after you were demoted to AAA (2008: 22-3, 2.54 era, 1.10 whip)
- Play for 4 teams in two years, despite being one of the best and most affordable starting pitchers in the majors (2009-2010: 26-22, 3.20 era, 1.13 whip)
- Absolutely own the playoffs (7-0, 64.1 ip, 1.26 era, 0.73 whip, 67 k)
- Get PAID
So there you have it. Ten simple steps to becoming one of the game’s best pitchers.