The best pitcher and, quite possibly, the best pitches in baseball will be on display at Citi Field on Sunday afternoon when Tim Lincecum takes the mound for the Giants.
Now you might remember that the Mets have previously handled Lincecum pretty well, scoring 12 runs against him in his 19 innings of work.
The Mets have faced him three times and come away with three wins, but much of the damage was done by two players who won’t be in the lineup. Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran were a combined 7-for-11 with three home runs against Lincecum. Take those two players out and the career stats of Mets hitters against the back-to-back Cy Young winner are rather ordinary.
Lincecum’s specialty is in making hitters look less than ordinary. We previously were buzzing about his changeup in a recent posting to the TMI blog, but a closer look at the numbers shows that he has a second dangerous weapon to go along with it -- his slider.
According to our Inside Edge video review data, Lincecum has thrown 76 sliders this season, so you'll see it maybe 12 or 13 times a game. Do you know how many hits he's allowed with his slider?
That's because it's an ultimate-level finish pitch, the perfect one to throw with two strikes. He's gotten 23 outs with the slider, 14 of them strikeouts, and allowed only the one hit and two walks with it. So that means in a typical Lincecum game, he'll get four outs with the slider, and give up next-to-nothing.
It's a pitch that is irresistible to the hitter, whether it's in or out of the strike zone. We mentioned he's thrown 76 of them. Slightly more than half (39) have been in the strike zone, just under half (37) have been out.
On those 76 pitches, Lincecum has gotten 47 swings, and of those, 37 were either missed or fouled away.
One last note. Here's the data on Lincecum's two money pitches when he throws them out of the strike zone.
• 37 pitches that were out of the strike zone
• 22 swung at
• 12 swings missed
• 6 balls fouled away
• 4 balls put into play
• 0 base hits
• 88 pitches that were out of the strike zone (about 15 per game)
• 43 swung at
• 31 swings missed
• 9 balls fouled away
• 3 balls put into play
• 1 base hit
There's a lot of numbers there, but here's the simple translation:
For the Mets to beat Lincecum on Sunday, they're going to have to do something against either his slider or his changeup. And if they can do anything versus either, they'll be the first to do so this year.