An interesting take on Timmy's problems from Grant Brisbee.
An interesting take on Timmy's problems from Grant Brisbee.
Timmy continues to struggle. Thoughts?
Dodger fan says, remember when Giants fans gave the Dodgers crap for passing on Lincecum for Kershaw
Analyst guy says, this is (at least part of) the problem
We still do! Timmy has two Cy Young Awards and has helped win two World Series. Flags fly forever, right?Dodger fan says, remember when Giants fans gave the Dodgers crap for passing on Lincecum for Kershaw
Monday, April 15, 2013
How Timmy can get his groove back
By C.J. Nitkowski
Coming into 2012, Tim Lincecum was a two-time Cy Young Award winner with three strikeout titles and four All-Star appearances. Just 27 years old, he was supposed to be in the prime of his career. But by the end of the 2012 season, the San Francisco Giants -- despite winning the World Series -- had more questions than answers when it came to figuring out what had happened to their former ace.
Lincecum's 15 losses and 5.18 ERA in 2012 were the worst in the National League. And while both were concerns, neither was as alarming as his 4.4 walks per nine innings, up from 3.6 the season before. In 2009, Lincecum's most recent Cy Young season, he set a career-best 2.7 mark. That number turned out to be an aberration, as his BB/9 rate has climbed each season since.
However, the strikeouts are still there, which makes Lincecum's struggles all the more confounding. The velocity is down, but he should still be able to pitch better than he has over his past 36 regular-season starts (5.21 ERA).
Last year, we heard a lot about adjustments that were being made, such as a mechanical glitch and a mental tweak. But none of them seemed to work, at least beyond the short term.
After watching Lincecum struggle against the Cubs on Sunday, I see some adjustments that he needs to make if he wants become an effective starter again.
Acknowledging the problem
Lincecum acknowledged last year in the playoffs that his stuff had changed -- specifically his velocity -- and his game plan needed to as well.
Since 2009, Lincecum's strikeout rate, walk rate and fastball velocity are going in the wrong directions.
"I've got to figure out a way to do it differently now, get my outs," Lincecum told FoxSports.com in a moment of honesty. "I've always been able to transition on the run. For me not to make that adjustment…is hard."
Without a doubt, losing some of your ability and making a change can be difficult to come to terms with for a major league pitcher. However, it's that ability to adjust that keeps good pitchers in the game longer than most.
The offseason brought the opportunity for adjustment. The hair was clipped and the attitude seemed sincere, but the results did not get any better. A 10.57 ERA in spring training was cause for concern. The strikeouts were good, 16 in 15 1/3 innings, but the walks (8) and hits (22) were not.
Three starts into the 2013 season, we are seeing much of the same.
Lincecum once had dominant velocity, touching upward of 98 mph. In Sunday's start, he sat at 90-91 mph, only hitting 94 mph once or twice.
Prior to 2012, his average command was never an issue with a fastball reaching the upper 90s. Plus, his off-speed stuff was so good that hitters struggled to adjust and the strikeouts piled up.
Lincecum is still trying to pitch like a power pitcher with a power delivery -- the problem is that he is not that guy anymore. When he used to miss his spot up in the zone, he had enough velocity that hitters would swing through it, and that would set up the nasty off-speed stuff. Now the problem is that when he misses the mark with a 90-mph fastball, he becomes much more hittable.
Becoming more hittable has not only led to more hits, but more home runs as well. The 23 that Lincecum allowed in 2012 were a career high, and the 186 innings he pitched were a career low of any season in which he made at least 32 starts. Though he is only 16 innings into 2013, the numbers -- HR/9 (1.7) and BB/9 (6.8) -- are headed in the wrong direction. That's a scary start for a guy who pitches his home games in pitcher-friendly AT&T Park.
Giving up more home runs has likely lead Lincecum to become more cautious. The problem is that he doesn't have the command to pitch on the corners, which has led to the increasingly worse walk rates.
His delivery is noteworthy, specifically a stride length that has been measured at longer than seven feet. The average stride length for your run-of-the-mill 6-foot-3 pitcher is usually around six feet, making what Lincecum does at 5-foot-11 so unbelievable.
Lincecum's delivery has always seemed to be a point of contention. It's unique and different -- much like Lincecum -- but it has worked well, so who cares? The problem is that it's not working anymore. Given his delivery, he cannot command his fastball like a pitcher who throws 90-91 mph needs to.
Whether he can regain his top form will come down to his ability to make an adjustment in his delivery and improve control. Not just strikes, but quality strikes. The walks are an issue, but even his command inside the strike zone needs major improvement. It's all about a consistent release point, and that stride length could be making it very difficult for him to catch the same release point on every pitch.
It is somewhat disturbing that he has lost so much velocity in such a short amount of time, but there is no going back. Lincecum is going to have to find a way to throw more quality strikes. He needs to come to terms with the fact that the old Tim Lincecum is gone and is never coming back.
That does not signify the end of his career. Instead, Lincecum needs to make that physical adjustment, find something in his delivery that will help him throw more consistent strikes with his fastball. He has been unable to do that up to this point, and until he figures it out, he likely will continue to struggle.
Is it just me or does it seem like Timmy is beginning to come back around since he went back to using Buster Posey as his catcher again? Just wondering. . . . . .
Another thing, now that he is beginning to give us some quality starts again, it seems all the writers are concerned about is that he is going to be a marketable commodity once he becomes a free agent this year. Are they that anxious to dump him? I want to see him continue as a marketable commodity for the Giants and help us win a few more World Series. I still believe in Timmy and am appreciative of all he's given us over the years. I don't believe in this "What have you done for me lately?" attitude.
It comes down to how much Timmy wants to get paid. If he seeks a $20 million per season long term contract what should the Giants do? A player shouldn't get paid for what he did in the past. He should get paid on what he reasonably can be expected to do in the future. The Timmy of 2008-09, Cy Young Award winner, is long gone. That pitcher will never return. If Timmy wants 6-7 years, $120-$1140 million contract the Giants should just let him go.
Which means the only thing to do is win one more while we still have him!!
“Well, I like to say I’m completely focused, right? I mean, the game’s on the line. It’s not like I’m thinking about what does barbecue Pop Chips and Cholula taste like. Because I already know that answer — it tastes friggin’ awesome!"--Brian Wilson