From 2008 until 2010, Tim Lincecum was the top starting pitcher in the National League, if not all of baseball. During those 3 seasons, Lincecum compiled a 49-22 win/loss record, and 2 Cy Young Awards. Since 2011, the story has been a lot different, 33-43 record. Many seem to think that a big reason for the lack of success over the last 3 seasons could be due loss of velocity. During the 2008 Lincecum’s 4 seam fastball velocity was an average of 94.0 mph, in 2013 his average for the same pitch was 90.2 mph. Velocity isn’t the most important thing for a pitcher, but with the loss in velocity many think that Lincecum was trying to be too fine with his pitches which resulted in a lot more home runs. From 2008 until 2010, Lincecum surrendered 29 home runs. From 2011 until 2013, that number almost doubled, 60 home runs surrendered during those 3 seasons. Early in the off-season, Giants General Manager signed free agent starter Tim Hudson. Aside from Hudson’s performance on the field, I believe that he will have a huge impact on the progression of Lincecum. In August of 2012 Hudson, while still with Atlanta, had this to say about Lincecum
Just as a fan and a veteran of the game, you want to try to help out young pitchers. From the other dugout, it’s what I see. His stuff is good. He’s still 91, 92, 93 (mph), plenty to win in this league, especially with that changeup. He doesn’t have to make every pitch a swing-and-miss pitch. I was the same way when I was younger. You feel like a stud out there when people swing and miss. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve preached to our young guys that strikeouts are sexy, but outs are outs, man, no matter how you get them. It’s a lot cooler for me pitching in the seventh or eighth inning than it is going 5 1/3. Your manager likes it a lot more, too.
(Hudson quote courtesy of John Shea, national baseball writer for San Francisco Chronicle)
I’m not saying that Lincecum will return to his Cy Young form of 2008-2010, but I do truly believe that we will see a much better Lincecum than we have the last 3 years. My prediction for Lincecum this year is a 15-10 record with over 200 strikeouts and around a 4 to 4.50 ERA. On Fangraphs.com they have projections up for all players in the entire league, and this is what they have projected for Lincecum and the rest of the Giants in 2014
My question for all of our readers is this, what do you expect of Lincecum for the 2014 season?
10 wins or less?
Less than 200 strikeouts?
over 200 strikeouts?
Leave your predictions in the comment section below.