Thursday, July 22, 2010
Should Giants worry about the Freak?
From the game that keeps on giving, Dave Cameron finds a pretty good reason to be really worried about the Giants' best pitcher. Is Timmy broken?
Last night, [Tim] Lincecum faced the Dodgers, and while the game was more notable for what happened later, it was probably the worst he’s ever thrown as a major leaguer. Results wise, he didn’t even make it through the fifth inning, gave up five runs, walked three, hit a batter, and only managed to strike out two of the 24 batters he faced. Stuff wise, it was even worse.
His fastball averaged 89 MPH, and the hardest pitch he threw all night was 91.8 MPH. He wasn’t even able to sustain that, however, as he was down to sitting in the 87-88 MPH range by the end of his performance.
Perhaps, like Madison Bumgarner, he just needs a few starts to get some things straightened out and the velocity will come back. We can’t conclude simply from lessened velocity and poor performance that Lincecum is hurting – only he and the doctors know that. If I’m the Giants, though, I’d want to know 100 percent that there’s nothing structurally wrong before I let him take the mound again. The version of Lincecum who pitched for San Francisco last night won’t help them win anything anyway.
Just the other day, someone was trying to convince me that Lincecum's been right up there with the other great pitchers in the National League this season, and as proof offered his league-leading strikeouts.
OK. The strikeouts are impressive. They're not as impressive as last season, though. The strikeouts are down some and the walks are up some, and the result is a 2.65 strikeout-to-walk ratio that's 23 percent lower than Lincecum's two Cy Young seasons (combined).
One bad start doesn't make him a bad pitcher. He's still 10-4 with a 3.18 ERA, numbers that 95 percent of the pitchers in North America would kill for. But he's no Cy Young candidate.
Which is why I chose to highlight this particular piece. There at the end, Cameron nailed it. Someone will undoubtedly argue that the Giants can't take Lincecum out of the rotation because they're fighting for a playoff spot. But if Lincecum isn't healthy, that fight's over before it really gets going.
At this moment -- and I mean literally right now -- the front office should completely forget about October and focus instead on exactly why Lincecum's not throwing consistently in the low 90s.
Everything else is just details.