Good lord, what a terrible game last night. In the 0.5 seconds it took for Brad Ausmus’ — hereby referred to as the evil one — line drive to reach Lincecum’s knee, every tragic career ending scenario flashed through my head. Watching Lincecum limp badly off the field as he leaned against our head trainer, so to keep his balance, was the worst thing I’ve seen all year in a Giants game.
And that’s saying something, I’ve seen a lot of Jose Castillo.
Getting Lincecum and the other young pitchers through this season healthy and ready for ’09 is the prime objective. It’s extremely important to the Giants future. That’s it. That’s all there is to it. Without the young pitching — especially Lincecum, who might be one of the best pitchers in the game right-this-very-moment — the Giants have little to work with. The pitching is the beginning foundation of a nice house. Without them, the Giants have a few bits-and-pieces of construction materials, but nothing substantial.
That’s why in those 0.5 seconds of pure horror, everything put into that burgeoning house came tumbling down. Reports last night are that the x-rays are negative and that Lincecum was walking around the clubhouse afterwards on his own power. Both are good signs.
Now, what the Giants shouldn’t do — this seems painfully obvious — is to not try and push Lincecum into his next start. They surely know how valuable he is and as Andrew Baggarly notes, if he did miss a start it might not be the worst thing in the world for him, he’s thrown a bunch of pitches this year and a breather could do his arm good. I worry that the liner hit Lincecum’s right knee, which is his plant-and-push leg. Lincecum has a great stride, almost springing off the mound, and that leg is what holds up the entire process. The Giants might be short on pitching because they don’t get a day off until August 28th. Lincecum’s next start is on Sunday, August 17th. Make a bullpen game out of it if you have to, maybe let Yabu throw 4-5 innings and then go from there.
Following the same Baggs link from above, we’ve got some rumors that 1B Travis Ishikawa could be on his way up to the majors and John Bowker could be on his way down. Bowkermania was a brief and wonderful time, but his plate discipline has been poor this year and he’s had a really hard time in July and August. I don’t mind Bowker going to Fresno to get constant work in a lower pressured environment but I hope we seen him again in the big leagues. He might not be a starter, but he could be a fine 1B or 4th OF on this team. I still like his upside a good bit.
As for Ishikawa, I wrote about him last when he was in AA Connecticut:
The Giants sent Ishikawa back to AA this year and he’s made some noticeable changes. Firstly, he cut his K% down to 16.1%, signaling to me that he’s potentially changed his swing in order to make more contact. Ishikawa’s swing has always considered to be a little long. He also raised his BB% to an excellent 13.6%. He does have noticeable splits but it’s encouraging that he’s hitting even just slightly at Dodd Stadium. Overall his line currently sits at (.291/.380/.467). Because of his struggles against LHP he will most likely max out as a platoon partner at 1B. But, after where he was heading a couple of years ago, he’s made some nice adjustments to his game. Let’s hope that they carry throughout this season and that the Giants move him to AAA before the year is done.
After writing about Ishikawa in June, he was promoted just a couple of days later to AAA Fresno. How has he done in Fresno? He’s been on a tear. In 171 AB’s he’s hit (.310/.370/.737) with 16 HR’s. His BB% has dropped some — from 13.6% in AA to 7.3% in AAA — but he’s killing the ball when he makes contact with an ISOP of .427, some question how his power will translate to the majors but he’s turned himself around this year. Just how far he’s turned himself around and how far he’ll go is still for debate.
His combined MLE’s from both levels are (.257/.335/.468) which seem to be about what I’d expect Ishikawa’s upside to be in the majors. He has some platoon issues — OPS’ing .642 against LHP this year — but with Bowker struggling, he’s earned the chance. He’s supposed to be a strong defender at 1B and should be a better defender than Bowker right now.