Tim Lincecum is 2-8. He has not won since April 28. His team has lost 9 straight games he has started. He has an ERA over 6.00. He has a career worse 4.8 walks per 9 innings. His average fastball velocity is lower than ever.
Tim Lincecum is also 28. He has won two Cy Young Awards. He is striking out more than a batter per inning this season. He and the team claim that he is healthy.
Although pitchers are a lot harder to predict when it comes to reading if they can bounce back, I never doubt a struggling veteran that still should be in or around the prime of their careers and has been consistent for a stretch of multiple seasons. It is the theory that every Adam Dunn
owner has relied on this season. That every Dan Haren
and Ian Kinsler
owner relied on last season. Or Carl Crawford
owners the season before that.
Can you get burnt? Sure, Crawford owners this season might have. Ubaldo Jimenez
owners have as well. In both of those instances there was an obvious reason to look for the player to just fall off the table. Crawford was hurt coming into the season and is still hurt. Jimenez's fastball, which was his greatest weapon, stopped being fast. In the case of Lincecum, I don't know if there is a clear reason for his lack of success. The fast ball velocity is about 1.5 MPH lower on average than it typically is, but according to Fangraphs pitch values, Lincecum has actually had a better fast ball this season than he did last year.
Going by the numbers, Lincecum has been severely unlucky. His FIP and xFIP are both under 4.00, but Dave Cameron suggests that calling it bad luck is dismissing the fact that he is not locating pitches
. In that article, Cameron describes a juicey 1-2 pitch that Lincecum made to Jesus Montero
. To me, if Lincecum is not struggling with walks this season, he throws him something way off the plate and gets Montero to chase. Lincecum is struggling with walks and everything else on the mound, thus the numbers he has accumulated this season. Lincecum also is having difficulty pitching out of the stretch. His batting average against is almost 50 points worse with runners on base than it is with the bases empty. That could be mechanical, but it also could be mental. That whole "here we go again" mentality when someone gets on against him. More than anything, Lincecum needs one good start to build on. His greatest problem right now is himself.
Today he takes on the Athletics who are 24th in the Majors in runs scored and have the 4th worst on base percentage in the game. Lincecum has already struggled against the A's this season, but at some point if we believe that he isn't hurt, he is going to pitch like Tim Lincecum.