Monday, July 16, 2012

Tim Lincecum

I wrote back in April after the Giants extended Matt Cain's contract that I would take Matt Cain over Tim Lincecum any day of the week. And after the first half of the season, both pitchers have made me look like a genius. Lincecum currently is 98th out of 101 qualifying pitchers in the major leagues in ERA with an ERA of 5.93 and is allowing 4.39 walks per 9 innings, 93rd out of 101. Meanwhile, Cain was the All-Star game starter for the NL and has the third best WHIP in the league, at 0.96, compared to Lincecum's 1.52, 96th in the league.

I don't want to bash on Timmy too much because, like all Giants' fans, I want him to bounce back. If Lincecum was to undergo a resurgence, the Giants would be the prohibitive favorite in the NL West and could just as well rank as one of the top teams in all of baseball.

Lincecum's start against the Astros on Saturday was a tremendous first step, a first step in which he went 8 innings, only gave up 5 hits, and struck out 11. But most importantly, he only gave up one walk, which hopefully is indicative that his control is coming back. Of course, he didn't get the decision because of a poor ninth inning by Santiago Casilla (the closer situation for the Giants is another huge issue) and rookie catcher Hector Sanchez, but the point is that Lincecum pitched with control, used pitches economically, and went deep into a game whilst giving up no runs. If Lincecum can perform somewhere around this level for the rest of the season, the Giants may very well make a deep playoff run reminiscent of 2010. But you also have to remember that this excellent performance came against the Astros, who many would call the worst team in baseball.

Lincecum's next start, though, will come against the Phillies, who boast a much better lineup than the Astros. This should present an excellent test for Lincecum as well as a great barometer for where he's at in terms of his comeback. The main thing to focus on is his walk total and of course, the number of runs he gives up, because ultimately, that will determine if the Giants win the game. From watching his progress, or rather decline, this year, it is apparent to me that he is simply not able to put the ball where he wants it to go. In other words, his control has disappeared. However, his last start showed signs of his control returning, which was a big reason he threw 8 shutout innings. And, even better, control should not change based on the opponent. If you can put the ball where you want against the Astros, you can do it against the Phillies.

So, this Friday's start against the Phillies may very well be the most important game for the Giants this season. Lincecum has to show that the Astros game wasn't an anomaly and that his control has returned. He has to show that he is back.

For the sake of the Giants season, please do so, Timmy.

No comments:

Post a Comment