Monday, April 14, 2008

Lincecum Report – Start #3 - Review


IP: 5, K: 5, BB: 4, H: 6, ER: 4

“This game has young pitcher over-confidence and over-preparation written all over it. I think Lincecum fails to locate his pitches and ends up giving up a couple of big extra base hits. The Giants are going to lose and I don’t think it will be as close as most would predict”


IP: 6, K: 11, BB: 1, H: 6, ER: 2

At least I got the hits right.

I could not have been more wrong about what happened yesterday. Lincecum pounded the strike zone and continued to be aggressive in the zone even after the Cardinals strung together 3 straight hits in the 3rd inning. While he did leave a few pitches over the middle of the plate, the big extra base hit never arrived. To say my prediction was inaccurate would be an understatement.

Overall Thoughts:

First of all, LaRussa gave Lincecum and the Giants a gift by not starting Pujols. Their line-up was considerably weaker than normal and that favorably influenced Lincecum’s final strike out numbers. Of course, this should not be viewed as a knock on Lincecum because most of those guys are legitimate major league hitters and he cannot control the line-ups he faces.

To me, the biggest thing to take away from this game was the poise and confidence Lincecum showed on the mound. As I preach to anyone who will listen, throwing first pitch strikes is crucial to having a good start. Similar to my prediction, the first three innings proved my theory is not always valid. Here are the numbers Lincecum had posted when Righetti made his visit to the mound.

IP: 2.2, Total Pitches: 62, K: 5, BB: 1, ER: 2

Up to this point in the game, the Cardinals were hitting .500 when Lincecum started the batter off with a strike. In addition, the last three batters had all seen first pitch strikes and all three got a hits.

During the visit to the mound, Krukow made a very astute observation by saying the Cardinals were sitting on Lincecum’s first pitch fastball so he needed to mix in something different. While I would normally agree with Krukow, it doesn’t hold water when you are talking about Lincecum and his start to the season. Lincecum does not have enough control of his change-up or curveball to throw it for a strike with any kind of consistency. Taking this fact into account and the fact that batters are hitting a combined .174 when Lincecum starts them out with a strike, the overwhelming odds suggest that he should start the next hitter off with a first pitch fastball.

So what happened …

First pitch fastball right down the middle of the plate for a strike (as the hitter was probably looking for something off speed after seeing the visit to the mound) and an eventual swinging strike out to end the inning. Despite giving up three consecutive hits, Lincecum remained confident in his best pitch (the fastball) and got out of the inning.

Grading His Performance:

As I mentioned above, Lincecum got knocked around in the first three innings and he looked destined to be out of the game by the end of the 5th. However, in his last three innings, he faced 10 hitters and struck out 5 of them. Most young pitchers would have lost conviction in their stuff and struggled to get through another inning. Lincecum did the exact opposite by dominating the Cardinals in the 4th, 5th and 6th.

Grade: A-

(Honestly, I think Lincecum is even better than I thought he was. The fact that there are quite a few people calling for him to be traded so we can get some prospects is ridiculous. Out of all the pitchers under the age of 24, I think the Giants might have the best one)

Three Things to Remember:

* The 1st Pitch:
Here are Lincecum’s first pitch stats from yesterday’s game:
(He threw a first pitch strike to 17 of the 24 batters he faced – 70.8%)

First Pitch Strike:
* Batting Average: .313
* Walks: 0
* Strike outs: 5
* On-base percentage: .313

For the Season:
* First Strike %: 62.3
* Batting Average: .231
* Walks: 1
* Strike outs: 11
* On-base percentage: .279

First Pitch Ball:
* Batting Average: .200
* Walks: 1
* Strike outs: 6
* On-base percentage: .500

For the Season:
* Batting Average: .400
* Walks: 4
* Strike outs: 11
* On-base percentage: .500

A rough game for the first pitch strike theory but it is going to happen once in awhile

* Duncan, Pujols and Ankiel:
Duncan: 2 for 3 with a double
Pujols: Did not face Lincecum
Ankiel: 1 for 3 with a double and a RBI

This game would have been real interesting if Pujols was started. Lucky break for the Giants and Lincecum

* Location:
Even though he struck out 11 and walked only one, his location was not great and the evidence is the fact that he gave up an average of a hit an inning. It is obvious that Lincecum still struggles to control the considerable movement he has on his pitches. For now, he is going to leave a couple fastballs over the middle of the plate in each of his starts. As long as he doesn’t throw them to the wrong hitter, he will continue to post impressive numbers.

Interesting Moment from Yesterday’s Game:

I have watched 4 Giants games broadcast by the Giants television crew (sometimes Extra Innings gives you the other team’s broadcast team) and Krukow has only acknowledged this Amy person once. At what point are the Giants going to start to realize that sideline reporters in baseball are worthless unless they are named Peter Gammons.

Here are the three major reasons they don’t work:

1) Unless they are a former ball player (except for Peter Gammons), the broadcast team doesn’t respect them and it is obvious when you watch the broadcast.

2) What can they possibly add that the broadcast team cannot!?

3) Who in their right mind doesn’t want to turn off the TV and listen to John Miller on the radio when a soccer Mom (not in the good way) from Mill Valley comes on to talk about how much fun the party patio is?

It is only a matter of time until either Kruk or Kuip forgets to turnoff their mic and says something completely degrading about Amy on the air. Is it worth losing Kruk or Kuip over Amy?

I didn’t think so......

Until next time


thefantasticpoolio said...

I actually thought LaRussa was allowing Pujols a chance to dodge a tough pitcher, not the other way around.

RT said...

Now that is interesting. I did not think of it that way.

LaRussa is crafty like that

thefantasticpoolio said...

Yeah, LaRussa is kind of old school like that were he will give his players with chances to win a title of some kind a day off against a guy that could hurt their average or numbers. Just a thought.