The Giants play their first game of the year tonight in Arizona at 4:10 PM PDT (that’s 7:10 PM for us east coasters). Here’s a list of five things that I’m looking for in tonight’s game.
1. What will Lincecum throw sans slider?
Here’s a graph, courtesy of Brooks Baseball, detailing Tim Lincecum’s pitch-type usage by season.
Notice the huge increase in sliders during his 2011 campaign. Lincecum did not throw the slider this spring, and he plans to keep it on the shelf for the early part of the season. I’ll be very interested in watching how Lincecum adjusts without the slider in the early going. He’s shown himself to be a pretty inventive pitcher – always feels like one of those guys who is reinventing himself – and I wonder if this mean’s he’ll start throwing his curveball more? Or, maybe he’ll start throwing a knuckler. Yeah, I hope it’s the knuckler.
2. Is Brian Wilson healthy?
I can’t say if Wilson is healthy, but after watching him throw some innings this spring, I’m a tad concerned. Of course, on scale of things to be worried about, spring training velocity should rank pretty low (right under “this dog food tastes funny”). However, Wilson was throwing more 92 mile per hour fastballs in his last appearance than I can ever remember. Last year his velocity was steadily down, and I wonder if he’s going to have the same top-end velocity this year as compared to past years? Ultimate SSS, but if Wilson comes out firing gas I’ll be relieved.
3. Can we score runs?
Yesterday, in what I’ll describe as Opening Day 2.0, runs were at a premium. Only two teams out of 14 scored more than four runs; and, eight teams scored two runs or less. According to Baseball-Reference, the league average batting line for all of baseball is currently .191/.264/.295. While hitters are still working on their timing, pitchers seem ready to go. The league average ERA currently sits a 2.13. The Giants’ offense was pretty bad last year, let’s hope they’ll finish better than ‘dead last’ in runs scored this season.
My prediction: Giants’ hitters somehow hit worse than that batting line and our pitchers post a 0.00 ERA. It’s how these things work. I’ve come to accept it as a law of nature.
4. Brandon Belt
This guy should be in the lineup:
Look for him.
5. Will Gregor Blanco get to zoom around the bases?
It’s kind of silly to want to see your 5th outfielder play baseball, but I’m developing this weird fixation on Gregor Blanco. He’s not going to turn into the next Andres Torres, but dude has legitimate wheels and seems like a player that should be really, really fun to watch.
Comment starter: What are you looking for on Opening Day?