It’s yet to be determined that the Rangers holding Cliff Lee for Game 5 against the Rays is the right decision or not with the game to be played Tuesday night, but I think the Rangers missed an opportunity to kick the Rays when they were down.

The Rangers could have elected to pitch Lee on three days rest Sunday afternoon at home with a chance to knock the Rays out while they are reeling and had all the pressure on them. Not only would Lee pitch in front of the home crowd, but he would have faced Rays fourth starter Wade Davis instead of having to face their ace David Price again in Game 5.

Lee pitched in Game 1 last Wednesday and fired 7.0 innings with one run allowed while striking out 10 batters to defeat the Rays. He threw 104 pitches, not a game where he was overly worked by any means, and I think they could look back to this chance as a missed opportunity. Instead of Lee starting in Game 4, Tommy Hunter started and only went 4.0 innings with three runs allowed and eventually was tagged with the loss in a 5-2 Rays victory. As it stands now, Lee will face Price again in a rematch of Game 1. I’m not saying Lee can’t win the decisive game or that he won’t, but anything can happen when it’s down to one game and the Rangers are back on the road for this game, but I think Lee could easily out pitch Davis then Price again. I think the correct route would have been Lee on short rest at home followed by CJ Wilson in Game 5, if necessary.

I’m not going to bog this post down with stats from every angle on how pitchers on three days rest have fared well over the years, but take a look yourself at the list of southpaws in the postseason on three days rest. There are some great starts there and a couple of horrid ones, but for the most part it’s a pretty solid list of performances. C.C. Sabathia did it twice last year for the Yankees in the ALCS and World Series, and he won both starts on way to a championship. Plus, Lee is currently one of the elite pitchers in the league…does anyone think he couldn’t have handled short rest and pitched effectively? I would expect the best from him as usual.

Lee could still fire a gem tomorrow as the Rangers win their third game on the road in the series to eliminate the Rays, but if it goes wrong and the Rangers do not win the series, I think fans will look at this decision and wonder if their team blew a great chance to win their first playoff series in franchise history.