Tim Lincecum was horrible yesterday. Watching him struggle through the shortest start of his career yesterday, was even more horrible. Despite going on a stupendous streak of dazzling displays, including no-hitting the San Diego Padres, Lincecum has once again proved his inconsistencies and now, one must ponder; does he have a future as a starter for the San Francisco Giants?
While Lincecum has been utterly stunning at times this year, his inability to string together solid starts are a real worry. Stereotypically the Freak has been slow to start, taking some time to find a consistent delivery, and as of late, he has been punished for it. Big time. There were several unmissable mistakes he consistently made yesterday, and these need to be cut out.
The Royals ran riot on the bases yesterday, swiping five bags off Lincecum – all five were on the pitcher. Despite Andrew Susac‘s quick release, and accurate throwing, Timmy’s sheer incapacity to hold runners on led to the base stealing madness. For example, first inning, Nori Aoki reached on an infield single and was intent to steal second. Three or four times in-a-row, Aoki threatened to go, but pulled on the breaks. Completely oblivious to the fact Aoki was about to swipe second, Lincecum let him have a huge leadoff from the base, and with a nice, slow release, essentially requested for Aoki to have the stolen base. He accepted the request.
A pitcher, who was won two Cy-Young awards, should be fully aware of the fact he must hold runners on. Especially fast ones. The ‘rookie’ mistakes didn’t stop there, rather ironic given the fact there were four rookies playing the infield.
There are two key things Lincecum does when he is on form; keeping his breaking balls down, and locating his fastball. Yesterday, he did neither. In fact, he did the complete opposite to both. During those amazing five starts he managed to string together, when a batter fell behind 0-2/1-2, it was lights out. Even if you knew it was coming, Lincecum’s curveball/split change/slider, were simply unhittable. He started them in the zone and buried them in the dirt and made the hitter look silly.
Yesterday, Timmy left an unforgivable number of breaking balls hanging. The Freak surrendered two big hits yesterday; Billy Butler‘s run scoring double, and Alex Gordon‘s two run homer. In both of the crucial ABs, he left a fat, hanging curveball right into the batters sweetspot. For Butler, Lincecum hung a 1-2 curveball middle in. For Gordon, Lincecum served up a hanger, belt high, middle in. Simply not good enough.
The other key element of his game, as previously outlined, wasn’t there yesterday, either. His fastball lacked velocity, movement and control. Unlike his breaking pitches, the fastball didn’t get close to the zone. So much so, on the wild pitch which scored the second run of the game, his fastball bounced before the plate. Before the plate. This is the pitcher who threw a no-hitter nine starts ago. Hard to believe.
The bottom line is; if Lincecum can’t sort out his inconsistency, his time as a starter may be limited. As a matter of fact, in my opinion, the only thing working in his favour right now, in terms of being a starter, is his huge contract. It may not seem like it, but – I do love him. When he is at his best, he truly is unhittable. If in his next start, he can get through the first inning without any problems, keep his breaking balls down and locate his fastballs, he can rid everyone of their doubt. If he can’t? Well – that’s up to Bochy.