Many people in the Giants community are “freaking out, man” about Tim Lincecum’s last few starts. In his last three games started, Lincecum hasn’t had much success. Going a combined 14.2 IP with 18 H, 16 ER, 10 BB, 15 K over that span. That’s good for a 9.82 ERA. In yesterdays loss to the Blue Jays, Tim’s final line was a little more ugly than it probably should have been. After loading the bases, Messenger was called in to try and stop the bleeding. Aaron Hill hit a hard groundball right at Ray Durham that took a tough hop, skipped off his glove, and shot into the outfield for an additional 2 ER on Lincecum’s final line.
Lincecum is a fantastic talent but it was obvious that he didn’t have his best stuff yesterday and was frustrated by the results. He couldn’t locate his fastball, it often was up in the zone, and his curve was almost nonexistent. Lincecum himself agreed that he was getting frustrated with the game, and worse he was letting it show.
“I was frustrated and kind of showing it, and that’s not what I should be doing out there at all,” Lincecum said. “Your team doesn’t want to see you doing that, and the other team seems to feed off that.”
Lincecum has had so much success already in his career he’s not accustomed to getting knocked around like he was against the Jays. I believe that how he responds to the new challenges of major league life is going to be crucial in his development. Plus, we as fans sometimes attach unrealistic expectations to a young player like Lincecum. Giants fans, starved for some youthful prospects have boosted Lincecum to Olympian heights. We tend to forget that this is a guy with less than 75 total innings pitched in the minor leagues. Like any young pitcher, he’s going to have days where his command goes and he’s going to have days where he struggles. It’s all part of the development process.
The options for Lincecum seem to be divided between either 1) Sending him back to Fresno 2) Skipping him a turn in the rotation or 3) Keep him in the rotation. I think that solutions 2 and 3 are the best ones. Lincecum needs to be exposed to major league hitting to improve, I don’t think he has anything left to prove in AAA. As Lefty has noted, skipping him a turn in the rotation to work on mechanics, or to get his head straight isn’t exactly a bad thing. The Giants did it last year with Matt Cain and he responded well, coming back to throw a 1 hitter against the A’s. Skipping a turn would also lessen the amount of total innings pitched too, which wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Looking at the stats from Lincecum’s rough stretch, he’s still striking out guys at a great rate, so that helps ease some of the fears. His control has wavered some and he has given up some unlucky infield hits. Skip him a turn or keep him in the rotation to work through his struggles but don’t send him down to Fresno. The Giants have the advantage of taking it easy with Lincecum because they aren’t contending this year. I expect Jonathan Sanchez could spot start if they decide to skip Lincecum. It’s a shame that Russ Ortiz went to the DL because he provided some nice insurance in case something like this happened.
Listening through Marumari’s Wolves Hollow again and it holds up fantastically on each return. Fans of IDM should give it a spin if they haven’t already done so. Packed full of bright childlike melodies, lots of layered samples, and intricate, glitchy drumming, it’s a all around great album. Throw in a background story that revolves around Wolves from outer space and you’re set. Recommended for fans of Boards of Canada, ISAN, and Aphex Twin.