Tagged: Giants

Tim Lincecum Speculation

I was wondering about Lincecum’s velocity yesterday.  

Based on his last three performances, Aaron Gleeman concludes there’s something physically wrong with him.

‘Duk wonders whether Lincecum is already out of the running for the Cy Young award.  Hmm.  It would probably take a miracle for him to win it this year, but that has a lot to do with how studly Halladay and Jimenez have been.
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Lincecum’s Velocity: Cause for Concern?

I’ve watched Giants’ starting pitcher Tim Lincecum pitch four times this season, and I’ve noticed that his fastball velocity has been sitting in the 90-92 mph range.  It seemed like those readings were lower than what I’d been accustomed to seeing in 2008 and 2009.  

So I checked.  Here’s the data.  Here’s what you should notice.  His fastball velocity is indeed down from last year (91.3 mph in 2010 compared to 92.4 mph in 2009), and its substantially down from 2008 (94.1 mph).  
On the other hand, his changeup velocity has increased slightly in 2010 (83.7 mph in 2008, 83.2 mph in 2009, and 84.2 in 2010).
As a result, the spread between the fastball and changeup velocity is declining.  In 2008 it was 8.4 mph; in 2009 it was 9.2 mph; in 2010 it is 7.1 mph.  Could this be a problem?  It is a common assumption that effectiveness of a changeup is dependent upon the difference between the velocities of it and the fastball.  
On the other hand, his curveball has grown relatively slower relative to his fastball over the same time period.  In 2008 his curve averaged 79.6 mph or 14.5 mph below his fastball; in 2009, his curve averaged 76.7 mph or 15.7 mph below his fastball; in 2010 his curve has averaged 74.6 mph, or 16.7 mph below his fastball.
Also note that he is using his fastball less and less over time (from 66.1% in 2008, to 55.8 % in 2009, to 53.1% in 2010), and he is using his changeup more and more (from 18.5% in 2008, to 21.4% in 2009, to 24.5% in 2010).  And he is using a slider (at least as defined by Pitch F/x) more often, as well, almost 10% of the time in 2010.
This fourth offering, a slider, may be a difference maker, as it is slightly slower than the changeup–and thus showing us a bigger differential from the fastball–as well as breaking in the opposite direction from the change (away from righthanded batters).
I suppose it is changes like these–the adjustments the professional commentariat is always mentioning–that differentiate a pitcher from a thrower.  The numbers, then, might be showing us that Lincecum is undergoing just the transformation from thrower to pitcher.

NL “Wide Open”

Jack Moore provides some food for thought about how competitive the National League is proving to be:

As we enter play on Friday, the entire National League is only separated by nine games – the difference between NL leading San Diego at 22-12 and NL trailing Houston at 13-21. The entire NL Wild card race is occurring within a 6.5 game spread, as Washington currently leads the race at 20-15. The American League, on the other hand, has already started to separate, as Tampa Bay leads Baltimore by 13.5 games and only four other potential Wild Card teams are within eight games of leading New York.

We’ve also seen some surprises emerging in the National League. Washington, as mentioned above, is leading the Wild Card race despite a pitching staff without a single pitcher projected as above average. Cincinnati is four games over .500 despite most projection systems pegging them at .500 or below. San Diego and San Francisco are both surprising in an NL West which was handed to either Los Angeles or Colorado by most projection systems and analysts.