Sunday, January 20, 2013

The key guy for 2013

Which Tim Lincecum will show up this year? That guy who was getting hammered in the first inning or that guy from the playoffs?

Lefty Malo analyzes the recent Fangraphs story and asserts that last year's decline came from Tim's inability to throw quality breaking pitches and change-ups  -- 


. The change-up definitely lacked bite. It's possible it also lacked deception because of the decreased gap between Lincecum's declining fastball speed and his 83-MPH changeup. But I suspect a lot of the balls down the middle represented in the Fangraphs heat map were off-speed pitches.

This is all quite worrisome and would be downright ulcerous if not for Timmy's post-season run, in which the snap returned to his off-speed stuff and his fastball had a bit more life to it. How much more life is hard to say -- I vaguely remember him hitting 91, 92, perhaps 93 on occasion, but my memory is, uh... crap, what was I saying? Oh yes -- and Fangraphs' post-season stats aren't loading on Lincecum's player page for some reason, so I can't say for sure. But it wasn't just a better fastball that turned things around. It was the breaking stuff; the change-ups diving in the dirt, the sliders snapping across the edges of the plate. If he can regain the positive grades on those pitches, however Fangraphs comes up with them, the fastball velocity and location won't matter as much. If he can't, I don't think better location of his 89-MPH two-seamer will help much. 

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