Another Tim Lincecum, another rough start for The Freak.
Lincecum gave up five runs on eight hits in six innings of work, his longest outing of the season (ouch!) in the loss to the Phillies on Monday.
And while there is certainly concern for the two-time Cy Young winner, there’s certainly no reason to panic … yet.
So for each of the nine first-inning runs Lincecum has allowed this season, we’ll pass along nine good reason NOT to panic about Lincecum.
1. He lowered his season ERA. OK, fine, it may have been only because he came into the game with an ERA at 12.91 and now it sits at 10.54. But it’s something.
2. If the defense had helped him out, Lincecum would have had his damage minimized if not eliminated. Placido Polanco’s one-out double should have been caught, instead of falling between Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera. Pagan then did not field Hunter Pence’s single cleanly, eliminating any chance of a play at the plate with the less-than-fleet-footed Polanco. Laynce Nix’s two-run double, which capped the first-inning scoring, should have at best been a one-run double and more like a one-run single, but Cabrera could not get to the ball before it headed to the wall in right. We’ve seen a lot of this from Cabrera this season (thank God we’re not depending on him to play CF). This issue may actually have a bigger impact on Brandon Belt. The Giants’ best defensive outfield alignment in Cabrera in left, Pagan in center and Nate Schierholtz in right. But Monday, Schierholtz said so Aubrey Huff started in left and Belt at first. After watching his defense struggle Monday, we may see more of Schierholtz patrolling AT&T Park’s tricky right field.
3. The Giants are used to having one of their five starting pitchers struggling. They’ve been used to it since 2007.
4. After the first inning, Lincecum limited the damage, allowing only run on four hits over the next five innings. Through three starts, Lincecum has a first-inning ERA of 27.00. He’s given up nine runs in the first inning this season. In 33 starts last season, he gave up a total of 8. If he can get THAT figured out, things should improve.
5. Who needs to worry about Tim Lincecum when you’ve got Barry Zito!!!!
6. Lincecum’s drop in velocity can be attributed to a lack of control than anything else. Lincecum said all through the spring that the has struggled to locate his fastball, leaving many up. That fact, and the fact that he is looking to reduce his 86 walks from 2011, has led to the reduced velocity. If you can’t control your fastball, what do you do? You take something off of it so that he can gain more control. According to CSNBayArea.com, Lincecum was throwing between 90-92 in the first inning, when he gave up those four runs. After the first, he threw between 89-91. Why? To gain command. We expect once Lincecum finds his rhythm and command, the mph on his fastball will rise back to the 92-93 that we are more used to.
7. The upcoming schedule is a favorable for Lincecum. His next start is slated to come Sunday in the New York. And even with their hot start, the Mets are still the Mets, hardly a vaunted lineup. And even with the fences moved in a bit, Citi Field continues to be more of a pitchers park. Then Lincecum should miss the series in Cincinnati (good thing) so he can open the next homestead against the crummy Padres.
8. Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner are both locked up through 2017.
9. We’ve seen Lincecum go through funks like this before. And we’ve seen him work his way out of these funks.