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  1. RJ,

    Have you noticed something just appears to be a little off with his delivery? I have watched nearly every start since he came up and I also watched his last start a few times using my DVR. I know he has had some quotes saying something is off. Just wondering if you picked anything up as well. I do think he will be fine and even a slight change I know can cost a tick or two in heat.

    Comment by Mike Ketchen — April 15, 2009 @ 9:13 am

  2. I seemed to notice that his delivery is a little wrong as well. That could definitely explain the dip in velocity as well as the control issues. Lincecum has a lot of moving parts in his delivery as anybody who watched MLB Network’s Hot Stove will tell you, if any or multiple things go wrong with that delivery he could see bad results.
    I can’t believe though that you said we shouldn’t be surprised if he never matches his 2008 performance. While it is probable that he won’t do it this year, I just think it is quite unprofessional to say he won’t do it ever, in a career that should last over a decade. I guess it’s those small sample size blues again.

    Comment by brian recca — April 15, 2009 @ 10:00 am

  3. Unprofessional? Really?

    Since I’m not a professional so I can’t be accused of being unprofessional, I’ll come right out and say it I think Lincecum’s 2008 is the best year we’ll ever see out of him, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him end up more Carl Pavano than Cy Young.

    Comment by Jeff Nye — April 15, 2009 @ 12:04 pm

  4. Hey Mike

    I just random sampled his release point from last year, and sure enough, it was higher and more centered than his release point from his previous start. Looks like a pretty substantial shift actually.

    Comment by R.J. Anderson — April 15, 2009 @ 12:10 pm

  5. I’m going to look at a few more of his 2008 starts in comparison and see if anything interesting comes of this tomorrow.

    Comment by R.J. Anderson — April 15, 2009 @ 12:21 pm

  6. On what basis, Jeff? Just curious. Carl Pavano? 4.0-4.4 FIP in the good years, 90-91MPH when he was healthy Carl Pavano?

    Comment by marc — April 15, 2009 @ 1:05 pm

  7. Pushing him so hard last year was stupid. Just like the Pirates pushing Gorzellany with nothing to play for in 2007, making Lincecum pitch that many innings just to try and win an award is beyond stupid. They should have capped him at 180 innings and shut him down. If Pelfrey and Timmy are sitting around in warmups in some sports rehab facility in June both the Mets and the Giants will be left thinking about what they could have done differently.

    Comment by Ed Nelson — April 15, 2009 @ 1:36 pm

  8. Speaking of overuse… will Dice K on the DL finally convince everyone that the WBC is stupid, and banish it to the nether regions of Selig’s imagination?

    Comment by Ed Nelson — April 15, 2009 @ 1:39 pm

  9. RJ,

    Great stuff! its things like this that make Fangraphs best site on the web. My concern of course is that doesnt a dropped arm slot mean a shoulder issue?

    Comment by Mike Ketchen — April 15, 2009 @ 1:51 pm

  10. The WBC will only be considered stupid by Bud Selig when it starts to cost MLB money to continue it. If it does anything to put more money in the pockets of the owners, then it will be continued for the betterment of the game. After all, that is the only way it seems to measure the quality of a commissioner, how much more money he gets for the owners is how much he’s doing for the betterment of the game.

    Comment by Nick — April 15, 2009 @ 2:31 pm

  11. I really like the WBC! It is far from stupid. Baseball is no longer our game, but is played all over the world. Why shouldn’t we champion that with a tournament. Personally I think WBC play should be mandatory for all players selected pending a physical. Including pitchers!

    Anyway Dice Ks issues may have absolutely nothing to do with the WBC and likley would have happened anyway.

    Comment by PhDBrian — April 15, 2009 @ 3:41 pm

  12. PHDBrian… You like soccer don’t you? Admit it. You probably call it football. Do you spell color with a u?

    Comment by Ed Nelson — April 15, 2009 @ 3:53 pm

  13. It’s not a terribly reasoned stance on my part; I just don’t like his motion or his past workload.

    He’s obviously more talented than Pavano ever was, but I can see his career going downhill quickly due to injury, and that’s the parallel I’m trying to make.

    Comment by Jeff Nye — April 15, 2009 @ 4:17 pm

  14. I actually hate soccer but thanks for asking.
    The reason I said unprofessional is because this site has been telling everyone not to go crazy over small sample sizes, and then this guy says Lincecum will probably never be a Cy Young candidate again after TWO STARTS. Maybe unprofessional wasn’t the right word and maybe I’m just defending my favorite player, I just think that basing a pitcher’s entire future after his first two starts of the season is not something I should be seeing from this website. Sorry for calling you unprofessional R.J. I was just defending my favorite player.

    Comment by brian recca — April 15, 2009 @ 4:30 pm

  15. You’re trying to judge motive and I don’t entirely appreciate that. You also assume I made this assumption off of two starts. I didn’t. Pitchers are unpredictable and don’t age like hitters, plus it was a 7.5 win season, there are not many pitchers who can and will reach that over their career, not along multiple times. Lincecum can never reach that again and still have an amazing career.

    Comment by R.J. Anderson — April 15, 2009 @ 4:33 pm

  16. To say that Lincecum has only pitched 8 innings in two starts, what’s the matter? is relying on a small sample size (see 2008 CC Sabathia). Just like Zach Duke has an ERA below 1.00 after 2 starts. We’ll see what happens next.

    However, observing that the release point is different is not based on sampling. But how do we interpret it? Is there a cause and effect? Is he pitching poorly because of the different release point, or is it coincidental? Why is there a different release point? Is it random (he didn’t realize it, but can easily go back) or is it because something physical is preventing the old release point?

    Comment by Brian Cartwright — April 15, 2009 @ 5:34 pm

  17. Sorry R.J. I misinterpreted what you said.

    Comment by brian recca — April 15, 2009 @ 6:07 pm

  18. I find it intriguing that Jeff Nye doesn’t have the slightest reason for his comments.

    I am even more intrigued to see what R.J. Anderson comes up with tomorrow. I don’t agree with his conclusion, but unlike Mr. Nye, he appears to be digging for data from which to draw an even deeper conclusion.

    Some observatiions from watching Tim Lincecum’s first two starts:

    First, I think the fangraphs data is from only Tim’s second start. Notice the 48.0% “XX,” or unrecorded. He is also shown with only 10.9% change ups, and he used that pitch perhaps 25% of the time in his first start, since it became his get-it-in pitch due to horrible command of his fastball.

    Second, Tim’s velocity decreased a great deal as his second start went on. I suspect, though, that the decline was due more to his trying hard to get his fastball across than to fatigue. It could have been a combination of each.

    Third, while Tim’s 10 hits in his last start were a career high, he was victimized by no fewer than three catchable balls hit to the outfield not being caught. Amazingly, Tim has been cost four earned runs by one player — Eugenio Velez — in his last five starts. One of those came in his last start, one in which he was even more victimized by Fred Lewis, who went back on a ball in front of him and came in on a ball hit over his head.

    Tim also fell prey to the so-called “Jury Box” near the right-field line in Petco Park. Petco is a nightmare in which to hit homers, but the “Jury Box” plays somewhat like the “Pesky Porch” in Fenway. Chase Headley found that box with a two-run homer right after Lewis’ first gaffe kept the inning alive.

    Tim admittedly hasn’t found his rhythmn, but I think it is far too early to predict doom. I still think he will pitch as well as last season — but have a lesser record due to less run support by the Giants’ hitters, who actually gave Tim an extra run per nine innings last season beyond that which they gave the other Giants’ pitchers. But whereas last season he got off to a FABULOUS start, obviously this season he has struggled badly with his control — particularly in getting his first pitches across.

    While he had a good spring, even there he struggled with that first pitch. I would like to see Tim take a little off his first pitch in an effort to get it in. That risks having it get pounded, of course, but on over 900 first pitches last season, Tim yielded only three extra-base hits. And while he pitched fairly well even when he missed with his first pitch, when he got it over, he was almost impossible to hit.

    The one positive of Tim’s first start was that his change up was as good as I have ever seen it — and he threw it more often than ever before. In his second start, it was his curve/slider that was sharp — although his control of it wasn’t as good as it had been of his change up in his first start.

    Again, I am intrigued to see what R.J. comes up with. My personal thought is that due to his particular motion, his core is more vulnerable to injury than his arm, which to some extent is catapulted forward by his great body torque. And Tim has worked most of his life developing the flexibility and strength in his core.

    If I were to point to one particular strength Tim has, it would be his flexibility. I remain flexible to what R.J. finds, just as I believe R.J. to be flexible in forming and refining his opinion of Tim.

    In contrast, I find Mr. Nye to be quite inflexible and overly defensive. Then again, Tim could have used that defense behind him last game. :)

    Comment by SharksRog — April 15, 2009 @ 7:36 pm

  19. Um, I have reasons, and stated them. His past workload, including college, has been very heavy, and his pitching motion is bizarre to say the least. It’s not a good combination.

    People bring up things like “flexibility” and “he’s a great athlete” all the time in regards to Lincecum, but I’ve never seen anything that convinces me that he has found some magic formula that makes him exempt from the same things that can cause all pitchers to break down.

    And if, as you say, his velocity went down because he was trying to get a better handle on his fastball (which is about the 382nd thing that comes to my mind when I see a velocity drop), why did his velocity drop on his other pitches, also?

    And, like R.J. said; 7.5 win seasons from pitchers just don’t happen very often. Saying he is unlikely to ever again match his 2008 season is not at all the same thing as saying he’s going to be BAD.

    I know a lot of people have an attachment to Lincecum, so calling his future into question is like kicking their favorite puppy. I even understand the sentiment, since he’s a young guy who seems to be personable, has a good backstory, and pitched one hell of a 2008 campaign.

    Oh, and I’m plenty flexible! I’ve just never seen anyone present me with any actual, y’know, DATA to convince me that Lincecum is uniquely immune to the laws of physics.

    Comment by Jeff Nye — April 15, 2009 @ 8:43 pm

  20. Timmy lead MLB in pitcher abuse points by one of the widest margins, if not the widest margin, in history. He was 10000 points higher than the runner up (Roy Holladay edged out Verlander by a few points) and if that doesn’t concern you in the least then…

    Is he hurt? Maybe. Is it time to panic? Not yet. Should you be very very concerned. Yes.

    Comment by Ed Nelson — April 15, 2009 @ 9:32 pm

  21. Lol I think people are honestly just jealous of him and are basking in it as he struggles.

    Comment by brian recca — April 15, 2009 @ 10:11 pm

  22. or jealous of the Giants and basking in the fact that their entire future rests with Lincecum.

    Comment by vivaelpujols — April 16, 2009 @ 1:13 am

  23. There you go, judging motive again.

    Lincecum’s only making $650k this year; if I’m jealous of anybody, it’s someone like Carlos Silva who is making $12 million a year to suck.

    Comment by Jeff Nye — April 16, 2009 @ 3:18 am

  24. The Giants entire future does not rest with Lincecum, they’ve got two stud prospects, plus Cain and Sanchez. Lincecum could get hit by a drunk dodger fan tomorrow and they’ve still got the makings of a good rotation. I also think it was stupid for the giants to let him throw so many innings last year (pipe down dusty), However if his arm does fall off I expect it to be later in his career not earlier (more koufax than pavano).

    Comment by drew — April 16, 2009 @ 6:05 am

  25. One more thought I haven’t read anything to explain why pitchers were able to hit 300 innings 35 years ago while today’s wisdom says that you’ll ruin a guy trying to do that nowadays, any thoughts?

    Comment by drew — April 16, 2009 @ 6:08 am

  26. Because guys who pitched 300 innings did have their careers ruined. You just haven’t heard of them because they pitched, got hurt, and never returned. Look at Dave Ferriss on the 1946 Boston Red Sox. He pitched 274 innings with a record 25-6 with a 3.25 ERA. The next year he missed a few games and was complaining of arm problems and then…poof! His career was over.

    There are literally countless other guys who suffered the same fate. They just disappear into the record books and no one bothers to remember what they could have been (although Ferriss is in the Red Sox hall of fame).

    Comment by Ed Nelson — April 16, 2009 @ 12:50 pm

  27. You say Tim’s past workload and unusual motion are a bad combination, but you’re merely guessing.

    I’m not saying you couldn’t be right, merely that your opinion is almost entirely guesswork.

    Let’s look at some facts:

    First, the data on Tim is based on only 92 of his 177 pitches thrown thus far this season. I believe Fan Graphs missed his entire first game and seven of his 99 pitches thrown on Sunday. So we’re basing our opinions on only one game.

    Second, the speed of Tim’s curve and change each decreased far more last year than the speed of his fastball. When Tim’s curve has maximum bite, his speed is slower — and he had very good bite on his curve ball Sunday, although his control with it was only so-so. And part of the effectiveness of his change up is based on its speed differential compared with his fastball. The decline in the speed of Tim’s change up last season was more than it has been this year.

    Again, I’m not saying it is impossible you are right. I’m merely saying that basing these conclusions on one game — and a game in which Tim struggled mightily with his control, at that — is probably a bit of an overplay. Particularly since guns likely vary slightly from stadium to stadium.

    It may have been that the gun was slower on Sunday than it had been on the previous Tuesday when Tim’s opponent, Chris Young, had pitched his first game of the season. According to MLB’s gameday, Chris’ average fastball speed was about 1.5 mph slower on Sunday than in his first start.

    You could be right here. But, again, I think you’re using mostly guesswork. I’m looking forward to R.J.’s further analysis.

    Comment by SharksRog — April 16, 2009 @ 3:50 pm

  28. Mostly a guess on my part, but I think pitchers half a century ago were able to pitch more innings for a couple of reasons which often aren’t discussed.

    First, the number of pitches per at bat has increased during that time (due in part to more swing-throughs), so more innings could be pitched back then on the same number of pitches.

    Second, with fewer power hitters (and likely fewer good hitters overall) back then, I think pitchers were able to coast more at times. I don’t think today’s pitchers are able to coast much at all. Batters take more pitches and swing and miss at more — but they seem to hit balls harder than in the past.

    Comment by SharksRog — April 16, 2009 @ 3:56 pm

  29. this article is hilarious now

    Comment by Rich — April 30, 2009 @ 3:12 pm

  30. Well, how many starts does a guy get, 34? He’d have to have almost all complete games to reach 300 IP

    Comment by Rich — April 30, 2009 @ 3:14 pm

  31. Unless you actually read and comprehended it.

    Comment by joser — April 30, 2009 @ 4:59 pm

  32. Actually, there has been a lot written about that. You just have to look around.

    Comment by joser — April 30, 2009 @ 5:00 pm

  33. That makes it even more hilarious. Neo-Saber “analysts” with these shiny toys showing (unfortunately) how little they know of on field play. No disrespect to Mr. Anderson, but it was way to early in the year to be judging anyone one way or the other. I would like to see the other information being used to make his determinations, so as not to be forced to judge motive. Jeff Nye bravely predicting a pitcher won’t again repeat what can easily be described as a top ten pitching season over the last 25 years. Wow, great stuff.

    Comment by CaR — May 1, 2009 @ 9:53 am

  34. ? ????? ??? ?????? ??????, ???? ????? ? ?????? ????? ??????????, ?? ?????? ???? ????? ??????? ????? ?? ??? ?????? ??? ?? ?? ??????? ????????.

    Comment by ?? — October 19, 2009 @ 3:09 am

  35. Shouldn’t sabermatricians know (much) better that microscopic sizes don’t mean jack squat?

    Comment by Adam R. — October 19, 2009 @ 12:45 pm

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