There’s been no question that it’s been a tough month for Tim Lincecum. Over his past 8 starts the right-hander has put up a line of: 45 innings, 56 hits, 31 earned runs, 19 walks, and 43 strikeouts. Over that period of time, Lincecum’s BABIP was particularly elevated (.366 compared to .308 career) and hitters hit a combined .306/.379/.503 against the former CY Young Award winner. In what can only be described best as a ‘Pitching Duel’ Lincecum squared off against Ubaldo Jimenez last night and pitched his best game since his shutout against the Mets on July 15th. Lincecum ended his evening with 8 innings of work, 9 strikeouts, 1 walk, and 1 earned run. For Lincecum, it’s got to be a breath of fresh air and a bit of a confidence booster. The Rockies — as they generally do — are a very good hitting team and are a top 10 offense this year.
There’s been a lot talk about Lincecum’s velocity this year and I think it’s gotten to a point where it’s jumped the shark. By most accounts, he’s down by about 1 mile per hour from his 2009 season. Should we freak out? If we assume that he’s healthy, I don’t think it’s as big of a deal as the media has made it out to be. It’s not unusual for a pitcher to lose velocity as he ages. The numbers indicate that Lincecum still has strikeout stuff even if he’s throwing 91 instead of 94. Big radar gun readings are sexy and most fans love to see hitters being blown away with mid-90′s gas, but should we care how hard a pitcher is throwing as long as he’s effective? Lincecum might be more of a 5-6 win pitcher these days than the 7-8 win player he was in his CYA years. If that’s true, the Giants still have a top 15 pitcher in baseball.
I pulled the PFX numbers for 2010 Lincecum starts at home — to remove any stadium bias from the road games — and here’s what we get.
The average fastball for Linecum this year is 90.8 mph. He’s still able to reach back and touch 92-93 when he needs it. I’ll be interested to see how he responds to the conditioning claims next year. The point is: 91-mph-Lincecum is still quite good and a major boon to the Giants’ rotation.
I like Darren Ford — bad decisions aside — and it was cool to see him score the winning run last night. If you haven’t seen it, check out this video. Ford had a excellent year in 2009 in San Jose hitting .300/.386/.463. He struggled some this year in AA (.251 /.315/.365) but the Eastern League is a notoriously difficult place to hit. Ford probably won’t hit enough to start in the majors, but his defense in CF — mostly described as plus-plus — and his speed/baserunning — also described as plus-plus — should keep him employed as a 4th OF on any major league roster. It’s worth noting that much like 2009, he struggled a bunch in the first half this year. Post All-Star Break he was hitting .302/.367/.437 for the Squirrels in 126 at-bats.
Rounding out today’s post, a graph of the National League Extra-base hits leaders.
Yeah, Andres Torres is having a pretty excellent year. Fun fact: In 2001 Barry Bonds had 107 XBHs — 73 of which were home runs.