If you watched yesterday’s Home Opener, you noticed that Tim Lincecum really struggled to get through his three innings. By the end of the third inning, Lincecum had already thrown 78 pitches and he never made it back into the game. I do commend Bruce Bochy for pulling Lincecum when he did. It was pretty clear he didn’t have the command to pitch much further into the game. Lincecum’s final line was: 3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 SO. By PITCHf/x, Lincecum’s average fastball velocity on the day was 92.5 mph, that’s a little down from his average fastball in 2008, but he did touch 93-94 mph a few times. The stuff was there — he struck out 5 in 3 innings — but the control was not. Despite “only” three walks, Lincecum’s fastball control was pretty poor. He constantly missed up in the zone with the heater. I’m not a mechanics expert, but on the Giants broadcast Krukow indicated that Tim’s shoulder might have been “flying open” and thus his fastball command suffered.
Here’s a PFX plot of Lincecum’s pitch-types by location. By watching with my eyes alone, it looked like Tim had better control of his changeup than the fastball. Let’s check out the plot.
I’ll note here that some of the PFX data from his start is absent, so this isn’t the full picture of what happened but I think it’s representative of his Opening Day start. There’s a pretty large grouping of fastballs that Lincecum threw that missed up in the zone. His control with the changeup was better, he put more of the pitches in and around the strike zone.
Here’s the movement plot for Lincecum’s pitches.
I split the fastball grouping into two groups. The blue dashed-line is Lincecum’s four-seamer. It’s got less horizontal movement because of the grip of the pitch. The red dashed-line indicates the two-seamer, which has more horizontal movement than the four-seamer. Lincecum mixed in some changeups, a single slider, and some curveballs.
It was the first start since 2007 in which Lincecum didn’t throw at least 4 innings in a game started. Lincecum actually spoke some in Spring Training that he felt out of “rhythm” and was working on getting things together. Hopefully, Lincecum can find a groove in his next start. Who would have guessed that the Giants would win a game in which Lincecum only pitches three innings?
Other Game Thoughts:
- Pablo Sandoval looked OK defensively at third. Not great, but alright. It looked like he had trouble getting a grip on the ball (too wet?) to throw a few times and his range wasn’t spectacular.
- Watching Aaron Rowand go 2-3 with a 2-run HR and a double was nice to see. The Giants need Rowand to hang around average this year if they want to compete in the NL West.
- Ishikawa’s first inning bases clearing triple was crushed on a fat changeup by Jeff Suppan. That’s probably a HR in most any other park in the majors — welcome to AT&T, kid.
- Both teams looked pretty rusty at times.