This article is courtesy of our friends at McCovey Chronicles
Written by: Grant Brisbee
You know there were “What’s Wrong With Lincecum?” articles coming. Understandable,
seeing as Lincecum has had a miserable start to the season. Here’s one from FanGraphs,
and here’s one from some guy on the Internet.
I remember these articles from last May, and August, 2010. Reports of his demise in both
instances were greatly exaggerated. But the articles were valid then, too. Lincecum is the
greatest pitcher you’ll ever be consistently worried about. It’s hard to explain.
To see just how bad this last start was, I forced myself to watch the first three innings again
and write a description of all 76 pitches. You’re welcome to read about it. But understand
that this is for completionists only. This is like listening to the audio commentary on your
Patton DVD. Don’t blame me if you get halfway through and realize that you’d rather be
doing something else.
1. Marco Scutaro
First two fastballs at 92. Great location. Third and fourth fastballs at 92, but both were way
high. Fifth fastball sailed low and inside. Sixth pitch was a changeup that sailed inside.
2. Dexter Fowler
Great changeup that Fowler had no business swinging at. Great fastball that Fowler was
late on. Not close with a changeup for the third pitch. Perfect changeup — inside corner with
life — for the strikeout.
3. Carlos Gonzalez
Get-it-in change for strike one. Nice change below the zone for a swinging strike. Hanging
change for a sharp foul down the line. Cameras cut to shot of Todd Helton in the dugout,
whose goatee is still stupid. Good 93-mph tempter, high and outside. Fastball at the belt,
middle-outside, 91 mph, hit for a triple. Brett Gardner might have caught it. Andres Torres
playing left might have caught it. Aubrey Huff would have come within one outfield of
catching it — quite close on a galactic scale. Melky did not catch it. Solid double.
4. Troy Tulowitzki
Get-it-in breaking ball for strike one. A 93-mph meatball down the middle, fouled straight
back for strike two. Sharp breaking ball low and away that had Tulowitzki flinching. Low
change that had Tulowitzki lunging, but he made contact and grounded out to score a run.
5. Todd Helton
Fastball up and in that was almost lost in the thicket of Helton’s stupid-yet-protective goatee.
Change low and away for ball two. Fastball down the middle at 91, fouled off. Fastball that
almost hit the Durham Bull in the on-deck circle. Beautiful change on the outside to bring
count full. Good change, low in the zone, that Helton still hit hard for an out. That last
sequence was unfair for Lincecum before it was unfair for Helton.
6. Michael Cuddyer
Fastball at 90 down the middle, taken for strike one. Then this happened. Hanging slider (or
change) up that Cuddyer swung through. Changeup that Cuddyer was way out in front of but
dribbled down the third-base line for a double.
7. Ramon Hernandez
Good change, low in the zone, chopped foul. Fastball at 90, just inside. Floating change
(breaking ball?), way inside. Nice, low change chopped weakly for an out.
8. Chris Nelson
Slider in the dirt for a wild pitch (Sanchez probably should have blocked/caught it.) Great
change at the knees for strike one. Nice inside fastball, fouled off for strike two. Tempting
change, low and inside, that Nelson laid off. Change that Nelson was way out in front of but
punched through the 5/6 hole.
9. Jeremy Guthrie
Strikeout. Almost looked like Lincecum was pitching to another pitcher. I lied about charting
10. Marco Scutaro
Big-breaking slider outside and low. Middle-outside fastball fouled off. Fastball at 91 up and
in. Hanging breaking ball that Scutaro murdered, but right to Melky.
11. Dexter Fowler
Fastball at 90 to the outside for strike one. Changeup low in the zone that Fowler was
absolutely waiting for, crushed for a double. No chance Fowler was looking for anything
12. Carlos Gonzalez
Change that sailed away for ball one. Beautiful, low change for swinging strike. Fastball
away at 90. Beautiful, inside change for called strike two. Inside curve. Krukow notes that
Sanchez and Lincecum are taking a long time to get on the same page with signs. Change
in a good spot that Gonzalez was still all over, roping it past a diving Schierholtz for a triple. I
have no problem with either of the last two changes that were roped for extra bases, other
than the part where they were roped for extra bases. Location was okay on both.
13. Troy Tulowitzki
High change for ball one. Slider in the dirt that Tulowitzki flailed at and missed by three feet,
but got past Sanchez for another wild pitch. Another one you’d expect a catcher to get in
front of. Change up dribbled to third for a swinging bunt single. Jeez.
14. Todd Helton
High fastball at 90 for ball one. Low, inside fastball at 90 for ball two. Change that Helton
was out in front of, breaking his bat on a foul liner. Low change that Helton lunged for, but
punched into center for a single. Very Pablo, that swing.
15. Michael Cuddyer
Hanging breaking ball that was fouled straight back. Fastball in, fouled away. Fastball up at
90, taken for a ball. Nasty, icky changeup in the dirt for a swinging strike three.
16. Ramon Hernandez
Fastball at 90 swung through. Great change for swinging strike two. High fastball in a good
spot for ball one. Hanging change roped into center. Krukow blames Sanchez’s inability to
block the last two wild pitches for Lincecum hanging the pitch. Pretty sure I don’t buy that; it
was just a crappy pitch.
17. Chris Nelson
Fastball at 90, swung through for strike one. Fastball at 89, similar spot, taken for a ball.
Change inside for a ball. Good change taken for a strike. Fastball at 89 fouled off. Fastball
at 91, low and inside. Nasty change in the dirt, barely fouled off. Another nasty change, this
one low and outside, barely fouled off. Fastball at 89, nowhere close, for the walk.
End of Lincecum’s night.
This was the worst start of Lincecum’s career, statistically. This was not the worst start of
Lincecum’s career. I’d argue that the three worst pitches of the night — a fastball to Tulowitzki
(#4), a hanging breaking ball to Cuddyer (#15), and a hanging breaking ball to Scutaro
(#10) — all had positive outcomes. Lincecum had some poor luck with a couple of weak
grounders/balls put in play, but he also had some good luck with two line-drive outs.
His changeup was exceptional at times. Just about every time he caught too much of the
strike zone with it, it was hit. His fastball ranged from 90-92, sitting mostly at 90 in the
second and third innings. Not great, but only one of the fastballs was even put in play (the
first Gonzalez triple.) There were several swing-throughs on the fastball.
Good start? Heck, no. He missed his spots several times, and he had trouble putting hitters
away after getting them 0-2 or 1-2. But his stuff was good enough to get them to 0-2 and 1-2
in the first place. But a start worthy of panic? Bah. Not even close. An iffy start made worse
by the vagaries of baseball, that’s all it was.
Now let’s sit back and watch this on a loop for an hour.