Tim Lincecum pitched another extraordinary game last night against the Phillies. Against a packed lineup that seems to have a solid hitter at each position in the batting order, Lincecum tossed 8 innings of shutout baseball. He struck out 8 hitters, walked 1, and wiggled out of a few jams in the mid-innings of the game. Joe Blaton also pitched well for the Phillies but a few good breaks for the Giants and two Juan Uribe sacrifice fly’s later, the Giants had all the space they needed.
Lincecum has pitched beautifully this year. If traditional stats are your thing, his 12 wins has him tied for the lead in the National League with teammate Matt Cain. Lincecum has improved on almost every facet of his game from his 2008 Cy Young Award season. He’s striking out more hitters, walking less, and his already good changeup has improved to devastating. By FanGraphs’ linear weight pitch values, Lincecum’s changeup has been worth +24.8 runs this year — or about 2.5 wins. The next closest changeup is owned by C.C. Sabathia and is worth +12.3 runs above your average changeup.
The Giants have been blessed with the 1-2 of Lincecum and Cain this year. Let’s check out a few of their stats.
Lincecum and Cain combined have been worth something like +9 wins to the Giants this year. tRA, if you’re unfamiliar, is like FIP with linear weights that take batted ball types into account. It’s also based on total runs allowed and not just earned runs. Both FIP and tRA agree that Lincecum and Cain are pitching quite well this season. Cain’s numbers are actually quite close to his career numbers. He’s stranding more runners this season (87.7% vs. career of 75.7%) but otherwise, he’s pretty much the same pitcher he’s always been. His BB/9 is slightly under his career average of 3.74.
Rowand was plunked again last night and had to come out of the game in the 7th inning. According to the SFGiants.com game wrapup:
Rowand again was fortunate after Phillies starter Joe Blanton (7-5) hit him above the left elbow with a seventh-inning pitch. X-rays revealed no fracture for Rowand, who spent 10 games out of the lineup after being hit in the right arm July 20 at Atlanta.
I expect he’ll start today, but if he doesn’t Randy Winn will be playing CF. Velez has recently played a few innings in CF but he still doesn’t look comfortable on defense.
A couple of roster moves took place before the game yesterday. Sadowski was sent down to AAA and RHP reliver, Waldis Joaquin, has been recalled from AA. Joaquin has a fastball that he can run into the mid-90′s and an inconsistent slider that’s been hampered by some command problems. He missed all of 2006 with Tommy John surgery. He’s tabbed as a live arm because of his fastball velocity but his AA numbers indicate that he might not be ready for a full-time gig in the majors yet. With the Defenders he saw his K/9 drop to a career low of 6.7 and his BB/9 of 4.7 indicates that he’s still ironing out the kinks in his command. The Giants will probably work him in some low leverage situations.
When the 5th spot comes up again in the rotation, the Giants might consider calling up Kevin Pucetas (a roster-move would need to take place first) or Joey Martinez who’s been rehabbing in AAA. If I had to pick right now, I would say Martinez should be the favorite. He’s already on the 40-man and he’s pitched well in his time at Fresno. In 28.3 innings he’s posted a 3.62 FIP to go with a GB% of 55.3. Martinez won’t strike a lot of hitters out, but he throws strikes and over his minor league career he’s been able to induce groundballs right around 55% of the time. He’s a much better choice than Ryan Sadowski.
Supplemental Reading: A brief PFX look at Joe during Spring Training.
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