Is Timmy Broken?

Back in April, I noted how Tim Lincecum‘s velocity just continued to decline, and how he had transformed into an entirely different pitcher than he was coming out of college, but that he’d been able to maintain his dominance despite the shift in skills. Specifically, I remember telling Erik Manning that we could start worrying about Lincecum’s velocity loss once it started affecting his performance.

Well, commence worrying.

Last night, Lincecum faced the Dodgers, and while the game was more notable for what happened later, it was probably the worst he’s ever thrown as a major leaguer. Results wise, he didn’t even make it through the fifth inning, gave up five runs, walked three, hit a batter, and only managed to strike out two of the 24 batters he faced. Stuff wise, it was even worse.

His fastball averaged 89 MPH, and the hardest pitch he threw all night was 91.8 MPH. He wasn’t even able to sustain that, however, as he was down to sitting in the 87-88 MPH range by the end of his performance. Via BrooksBaseball, the graph of his velocity from last night tells the story.

It was notable that his fastball was down when he was throwing 91-94. Last night, he was several ticks below that, and since a brilliant April, it’s been a struggle for Lincecum. Here’s his splits by month:

April: 1.78 BB/9, 10.85 K/9, 49.4% GB%, 2.25 xFIP
May: 5.70 BB/9, 9.91 K/9, 50.5% GB%, 4.10 xFIP
June: 3.38 BB/9, 9.56 K/9, 41.6% GB%, 3.23 xFIP
July: 3.38 BB/9, 7.09 K/9, 44.3% GB%, 4.06 xFIP

From 2007 to 2009, Lincecum had two months (June 2007, September 2007) where his xFIP was over 4.00. He’s now done it two of the last three months. He’s never had a month with a strikeout rate as low it is right now in July.

In his start prior to last night, he threw a complete game shutout, his fastball averaged 92 MPH, and he hit 95 a couple of times. It looked like he might be getting back on track, even though he only had five strikeouts. But, after last night’s no stuff/no command outing, it seems clear that something is going on. The Giants are in the midst of a pennant race, but they also owe it to their ace to make sure he’s alright. And right now, he doesn’t look like alright.

Perhaps, like Madison Bumgarner, he just needs a few starts to get some things straightened out and the velocity will come back. We can’t conclude simply from lessened velocity and poor performance that Lincecum is hurting – only he and the doctors know that. If I’m the Giants, though, I’d want to know 100 percent that there’s nothing structurally wrong before I let him take the mound again. The version of Lincecum who pitched for San Francisco last night won’t help them win anything anyway.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

98 Responses to “Is Timmy Broken?”

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  1. Old “Bitch Witch” is broke and he threw at Matt Kemp 3 times and Russell Martin once and got away with it

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  2. Matt says:

    Lincecum looked flat out dreadful yesterday. No command, no velocity, and no bite to any of his pitches. If this becomes a trend (and it looks like the loss of velocity might be), it could be a pretty abrupt fall from uber-elite to average.

    Honestly, Bumgarner didnt look much better the game before. His line looked decent at the end, but he was 88-91 all game with a nice cutter/slider and an awful change. His arm slot is different and he does seem to hide the ball, but his stuff profiles at best as a back end guy. The second time around the league, I wouldnt be shocked to see him come crashing down to earth.

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    • Crazy Observer says:

      Please don’t let this happen! I want to see him be elite with the weird delivery! Please tell me this is going to be alright?

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    • B says:

      The difference is Bumgarner looked how Bumgarner is supposed to look, and so far it seems to work for him. Lincecum did not look like Lincecum.

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  3. Billy says:

    Looks like the last 2 pitches he threw were 2 of the hardest he threw all night.

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  4. jponrye says:

    It was worrisome yesterday, but his velocity was better in the last game against the Mets. I’m going to hope that, for right now, it was just one weird and bad night. If he goes out there his next start and can’t hit 90, however, I’ll be in full on panic mode.

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    • One really bad start after a couple of pretty good ones is usually not a call for the end of a player’s eliteness. He has been down this year vs. before, but is still one of the best pitchers in the majors overall. That has to count for something.

      Concern, yes, and it is a downtrend vs. prior excellence, but this is a bit panicky considering all the admonishments people give regarding SSS. What if this is just another level of performance that he can sustain going forward?

      According to reports I’ve read, the Giants attribute Lincecum’s ups and downs to his lack of conditioning during the off-season. It could be a reference to the implications that could be made regarding his pot arrest. It could be a reference to all the non-baseball things he has been doing during the off-season since he has now won two Cy Youngs.

      According to rumors I’ve heard on the radio, Lincecum might have been having some problems with his dad. That would certainly take his focus off baseball. That is a reason that has been rumored for Sandoval’s bad May and June.

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      • B says:

        The problem is this isn’t just a case of bad BABIP luck or anything like that. Velocity does matter, and his is way down. His “stuff” in general just isn’t looking like it used to, and that’s not something you really need sample size to judge. Let’s hope he rebounds, he still has posted a 3.14 FIP on the season….

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      • Nick Steiner says:

        However, you do need a large sample size to judge the impact of a change in stuff.

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      • SharksRog says:

        I can’t speak directly to any issues Tim may have had with his dad, but three things I can point to are:

        . Chris has been very restrained in his involvement with Tim’s pitching, allowing his son to grow.

        . When Tim was having his greatest difficulties this season, the two did have a long talk.

        . Chris has been spending far more time in San Francisco recently. (He apparently has retired after many years of working for Boeing.) That doesn’t really seem consistent with a scenario of problems.

        To the best of my knowledge, Chris attended Tim’s debut with Salem-Keizer, his debut with San Jose, Tim’s game pitched for Fresno in Tacoma, Tim’s debut with the Giants and then the weekend they had the Tim Lincecum look-alike contest.

        So essentially Tim had gone through a partial minor-league season and most of two full major league years with Chris watching his son pitch live only four times — and only twice in games that weren’t within driving distance.

        Some fans worry that Tim’s dad is a meddler. It appears to me that he has gone out of his way NOT to be one since Tim became a professional.

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  5. hamandcheese says:

    It’s just one start…..

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  6. pack says:

    I’m not ready to get on the freak out bandwagon yet. His FB velocity is down, but none of his secondary pitches. It looks like he’s lost some of the H-MOV in his fast ball. His walk rate for may would be troubling to me, but that cleared up the last two months. I think he’s just leaving more balls over the plate recently.

    Or maybe he’s just smoking too much grass.

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    • pack says:

      “His FB velocity is down, but none of his secondary pitches.”

      should be:

      “The velocity on his FB is down, but none of his secondary pitches.”

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    • B says:

      I’m not sure it’s a good thing that his velocity on his secondary pitches isn’t down while his fastball is. Velocity differential affects how well your secondary pitches work. Unless you think it’s an indication that he can get his fastball velocity back up?

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    • Bigmouth says:

      Actually, popular rumor has it that Timmy’s struggles are related to his abstaining from the whacky tobacccy. Personally, though, I think it’s because he’s pitched too many innings at too young an age.

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      • CaR says:

        The true sign of decline isn’t fb velocity, which will pick back up in his case, its the snap on the breaking pitches which are much more demanding, physically, to throw. If the data (replays, not pitchfx garbage) shows loss in break, deception, tilt, etc. then there is something to worry about, probably not until then. A little (and I mean painfully little in Dave’s case) knowledge about pitching and pitchers is dangerous.

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  7. hairball says:

    Pretty lame to not mention the fact that his previous start was a complete game shutout of a decent lineup in which he hit 95 on the gun.

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  8. Choo says:

    His delivery requires an absurd degree of flexibility and elasticity. Great for a growing boy, not so great for a grown man. My son sticks his feet behind his head and rolls around the floor like a donut hole. He might still be able to do that in junior high, high school or even college. But as a 26-year old man? Doubtful. How many truly great 26-year old gymnasts are out there? I have no idea, but my guess is zero. Should we really expect Tim Lincecum to defy the laws of human anatomy and the aging process?

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    • DavidCEisen says:

      How many 40 year old yoga masters are out there? I have no idea, but my guess is a lot.

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      • Alex Poterack says:

        I think this should be a meme: “How many xx year old ______s are out there? I have no idea, but my guess is ______.”

        How many 35-year-old Frank Zappa fans are out there? I have no idea, but my guess is it’s a vocal minority.

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      • penpen says:

        I’m inclined to agree with Eisen. If Lincecum wants to keep himself flexible he can do it. See: yoga dudes, gymnasts, ice skaters, broadway dancers, ballet dancers. Lots of extremely flexible and athletic performers out there. Now whether Tim actually does what it takes to keep himself in the requisite shape is another story. His predilection for dope may suggest a less than stellar outlook on that front…

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      • 198d says:

        One of my ex’s was a yoga instructor. And a giant pothead. Kind of goes with the territory, I think. Hence,

        “His predilection for dope may suggest a less than stellar outlook on that front…”

        may not actually be such a bad thing in this case… ;)

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      • Choo says:

        When 40-year old yoga instructors take to exploding their bodies from their yoga mats in an effort to launch 95-mph projectiles 100+ times in the span of 120 minutes, then maybe we can compare them to major league pitchers. Same goes for ice skaters, who are judged on things like technical difficulty, music and sparkly clothes. And freaking Broadway performers? Seriously?

        Baseball is probably the most refined sport on the planet. The line between good and great is paper thin. The line between good and AAA is paper thin. Fractions of ability lost or gained are magnified, the positive or negative result often noticeable before the cause has been identified.

        Tim Lincecum could be dealing with a number of issues, but he is not impervious to the inevitable decline of flexibility with age. The myriad of changes that occur in the connective tissues of the body are well-documented and not at all hard to find on the internet. I’m not saying Tim problem’s are definitely a result of increased calcium deposits, adhesions, collagenous fibers, fragmentation or whateve . . . but it seems silly to cross it off the list because 40-something yoga instructors exist in our society.

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      • B says:

        People really do lose flexibility by age 26, he’s not making that up. There’s a reason gymnasts peak in their teens – and that’s exactly the reason. It’s almost assured that he is not as flexible/elastic as he was when he was 20, for instance, and if you really want, you can go find research that will support that.

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      • Jason B says:

        “How many truly great 26-year old gymnasts are out there? I have no idea, but my guess is zero.”

        I will guess non-zero. Do I win a prize for being right?

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      • Salt-n-Pepitone Loc says:

        “When 40-year old yoga instructors take to exploding their bodies from their yoga mats in an effort to launch 95-mph projectiles 100+ times in the span of 120 minutes, then maybe we can compare them to major league pitchers. Same goes for ice skaters, who are judged on things like technical difficulty, music and sparkly clothes. And freaking Broadway performers? Seriously?”

        I am by no means a fan of figure skating but I’m guessing the level of “refinement” required to be able to jump into the air on ice skates spin around four and a half times and then land backwards on one foot and do it in such a manner that it looks as care-free and nonchalant as walking down the street is actually pretty similar to that required to throw a ball 95 mph with pinpoint precision.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      I have/had concerns about his delivery once he starts losing some flexibility. But, I wouldn;t jump on that yet.

      My guess is Timmy is to that point where he’s going to have to start focusing on what he does in between starts, rather than just going out there and giving em hell.

      Admittingly, I have no idea what he does in between starts. He may be the hardest working, most detailed pitcher out there, but I haven’t read about it the same way I have, say, Roy Halladay.

      Seeing how Timmy was busted smoking week mid-morning, I’m guessing he doesn’t have a similar routine.

      IMO, he will mature. He’ll adjust. But, there could be some “Dontrelle” to him … young guy with funky/athletic delivery and great stuff loses his dominance as he ages.

      The thing about his motion is that it’s so extreme, we don’t know really how to look at it. Stride length 120% of body height, extreme hip should seperation and trunk rotation, all on a smallish frame.

      The concerning part to me is that Lincecum also faded (relative) during the last part of the second half last year. ML baseball is a much greater workload than HS, NCAA, and MiLB. He could just be wearing down and needing to focus on getting stronger in the off-season.

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      • The Giants have already criticized his conditioning during the off-season earlier this season, noting it as the reason for his relative struggles.

        About his in-between starts, he has famously been known to skip icing his arm after starts and long tossing the next day, which almost no pitchers do. Maybe in deference to age, he could tone that down, though according to some theories, you throw more (Mazzone says that I think) to build up strength.

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      • B says:

        “The Giants have already criticized his conditioning during the off-season earlier this season, noting it as the reason for his relative struggles.”

        I prefer to ignore this, thinking about it makes me mad. Sabean has been extremely poor dealing with the press this year (or at least in the beginning of the year), from criticizing Bumgarner for his offseason (which is absurd after all he went through), to criticising Tim and the rest of the pitching staff/good young players when the team slumps….it’s been a big load of crap. Sabean just needs to keep his mouth shut. Now, I’m gonna go back to pretending none of that happened….

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      • sanfranfan says:

        Where is the article showing the Giants critcizing Lincecum’s offseason conditioning, obsessive? I remember Bochy kind of gently joking/prodding Cain and Lincecum last year because they didn’t run between starts but I don’t remember seeing it this year. I don’t doubt you, I’d just like to read it.

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    • Jacob Jackson says:

      Choo, I think you made an excellent point here and I rec’d it.

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    • Matt says:

      “How many truly great 26-year old gymnasts are out there? I have no idea, but my guess is zero.”

      http://techblogbiz.blogspot.com/2006/09/top-10-gymnasts-of-all-time.html

      All then male gymnasts named were competing and winning gold medals at 26, you could probably even argue that it was their prime.

      Female gymnasts peak earlier, but males continue to get stronger after 20.

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    • Viliphied says:

      “How many truly great 26-year old gymnasts are out there?”

      Males? A lot. You’re thinking of female gymnastics (because, let’s face it, that’s all anyone watches), where the athletes tend to peak around 16-20. 20 is young for a male gymnast, however, and they tend to peak around 23-25.

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  9. EZANO says:

    Squirrel, get your facts straight before you pop off. He threw at Kemp once. The first pitch, when Kemp fell backwards, was OVER THE PLATE. It was simply high. Kemp, being the prima donna that he is, fell backwards for no apparent reason. And the BARELY inside pitches that Martin saw were thrown by Bautista, not Lincecum. And there is absolutely no way he was throwing at Martin. They’d just come back to turn a blowout into a 1 run game. Zero chance Bautista is trying to put a runner on. Bautista is effectively wild, that’s his game.

    Like all Dodgers fans, learn something about baseball before you talk out of your back side.

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    • Bautista’s game, since he turned pro, is being wild. The Giants are trying to turn him into being effectively wild, and the results are mixed so far. He or Moto are the top candidates to go down when Wellemeyer comes off DL to be long-man.

      Kemp should learn something about baseball too. He stole a useless base earlier this season when the D-gers were leading by a lot, that just makes the other team mad. Also, if your team hits the other team’s player in the face and then don’t even bother to check to see if he’s OK, that also sticks in their craw. Him being one of their better hitters, he should expect to get hit in retaliation at some point. At least he didn’t get hit in the face. Just be a man about it.

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    • Brendan Scolari says:

      I don’t know whether you’ve ever played baseball before, but if you have you should know that pitches at head level can often be pretty damn scary for a hitter, even when they’re out over the plate, and especially when they’re 90+ MPH. And if you watch closely, you’ll notice that guys get out of the way of those types of pitches all the time (pitches that clearly won’t hit them, that is). And I’ll have to respecfully disagree with you that doing so makes any hitter a prima donna.

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      • Matt says:

        “even when they’re out over the plate, and especially when they’re 90+ MPH.”

        Well, as the subject of the article is Tim’s decreased velocity, it wasn’t 90+, I think it was like 87-88. And there’s a big difference between getting out of the way of a pitch and throwing yourself backwards on the ground like you just dodged being hit in the head. It was the performance of a basketball or soccer player, not something you see in baseball often at all.

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      • B says:

        You’re really going to lump basketball in with soccer….?

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      • EZANO says:

        Sure, you back away from a pitch up at eye level (or swing at it if the name Sandoval is on the back of your jersey, but that’s another discussion), but as Matt says, Kemp jumped backwards like a gun was pointed at him.

        And are you really going to argue that Kemp isn’t a prima donna? I mean, I’m a Giants fan and admitted regularly that Bonds was one, no problem. You have to admit the truth in order for people to take you seriously. Look at yourself in the mirror and say out loud “Matt Kemp is not a prima donna”. See, you can’t do it!

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    • Ivdown says:

      You’re such a tool. All Dodger fans must know nothing because you’re a Giants fan. God that’s idiotic logic.

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      • B says:

        Pretty much. It’s selection bias, you have to be an idiot to be a Dodgers fan, so Dodgers fans know nothing because only idiots choose to root for that satanic team of devil worshippers. Also, you show up in inning 3 and leave in inning 7. :)

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  10. Nick Steiner says:

    Before his last start, his fastball velocity had been way up from where it was at the beginning of the season:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/fgraphs/5705_P_FA_20100715.png

    And even in his last start, it was higher according to BIS than it was according to the Pitch f/x data you quoted. If you look at the other starting pitcher that game (Kershaw), his fastball averaged 91.5 MPH compared to a seasonal average (per FanGraphs) of 92.8. The other pitchers I checked for that game (Broxton, Kuo, Casilla) were also well down from their season velocity. I’d estimate the Pitch f/x gun for that game was running cold by at least 1 MPH.

    Overall this year, Lincecum’s average fastball velocity is 91.5 this year, which is less than 1 MPH slower than last year. His xFIP on the season is 3.38, which is about .10 points higher than his career average. His strikeout rate is 9.53, about .5 points lower than his career average.

    In short, I really don’t how you could come to the conlcusion that it’s time to “commence worrying” unless you are putting a lot of weighted on his July xFIP split. I don’t see how that is warranted.

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  11. philosofool says:

    Lincecum is old news. Strasburg is the now. (By the way, Strasburg’s start today is streamed via ESPN3.com.)

    Just kidding. (Except for the streaming part.)

    I’m not too worried. I do wonder if he’s having some issues, but his velocity was way down in 2009 from 2010 and he was dominant, so I’m going to put my hat in with those who think he’s still one of the best pitchers in the game and just had an off night last night. I would like to see the control come back though.

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  12. KC says:

    Should also be mentioned that the Giants beat writer and TV announcers surmised he might be fighting the blister issues he had in May. If you can’t grip the ball properly, velocity and command will suffer (and it might explain those two weird pitches where he completely lost his grip).

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    • FYI: they asked him and he said that there’s no physical problems.

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      • ElJimador says:

        Yeah but that doesn’t mean there are no physical problems. Timmy has had issues w/blisters and I believe w/a split nail and when he and Bochy have been asked about it before they haven’t denied he’s been dealing w/those things they only insist it’s nothing new and not an issue. It doesn’t take a lot of reading between the lines there to understand he’s not really been 100%.

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      • Jason B says:

        Yeah, I think that’s the pat answer. “I’m fine, I’m FINE! EVERYTHING IS FINE!!”

        Three starts covering 11 IP and17 ER later, the pitcher lands on the DL.

        (Not saying Timmy is hurt, but I think 99.7% of players try to hide or pitch through injuries before shutting it down, so I wouldn’t read anything into his answer. It’s the stock response.)

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      • SharksRog says:

        Tim never seems to complain publicly or seek excuses. That he “dropped” not one but two pitches (one a warmup pitch) mid-throw made it seem to me that there may have been a finger-related issue.

        Tomorrow will be an important game for us to watch.

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  13. EZANO says:

    At the end of this season, or perhaps sooner, we’ll learn that he’s had a fingernail or finger issue all season long. These situations happen all the time where the only way a guy gets better is prolonged rest, but if he keeps playing he can’t hurt it further. So he keeps throwing every 5th day, concluding that Timmy at 75% is better than most other pitchers in the league, and therefore better than no Timmy at all by resting for a bit. They can’t afford to lose him in this tight of a race, even for a start or two.

    Giants announcers and beat writers have been ambiguously alluding to this for most of the season. It seems pretty clear that they know something like this is going on, but aren’t at liberty to make it public knowledge. Long term, there doesn’t seem to be anything to be concerned about.

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    • delv says:

      Concerning the fingernail, Chien-Ming Wang also had issues with that through his years of excellent performance because of the stress that his sinker put on the finger. He simply wouldn’t have an index fingernail through the season. It would grow back in the off-season, and then rip off again. It may just be something Lincecum has constantly dealt with, in sucess and in struggle, and so Bochy at this point considers it a non-issue…—a non-issue in the sense that there’s nothing that can be done about it.

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  14. DR says:

    He must have been injured when he fell down the well.

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  15. Thomas Wolff says:

    Maybe Timmy is not smoking enough weed? I’ve noticed he’s been dipping more and more lately. I think it’s his way of coping with the lack of weed.

    And about the whole flexibility thing, what about pitchers like Juan Marichal who had an insanely high leg kick? He was able to keep his leg kick while age and he still dominated.

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    • delv says:

      Good call. El Duque says hello.

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    • fergie348 says:

      Just to wrap up the smoking weed and Timmy is injured threads, do you think that because California has a medical marijuana statute in place (and functioning nicely, thank you.), should Timmy be able to smoke week during homestands on days when he doesn’t pitch? You know, to deal with the pain from his split fingernail and the fact that he’s no longer the dominant ace he used to be 10 starts ago? The team doctor could probably write him a scrip..

      That ok with MLB?

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      • UZR is a Joke says:

        MLBs drug policy doesn’t include marijuana, unless you get busted by the police and thrown into the drug program.

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  16. hank says:

    I think his Dad needs to start putting Benjamins on the ground to help him practice his amazing follow through. Clearly he’s not interested in bending down for a dollar bill anymore.

    Maybe they can update the “Beyond Baseball” commercial?

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  17. Graham says:

    I think it’s entirely possible that Timmy may hit a bit of a rough patch here, just like he did in May. It may even be that, by season’s end, his numbers are off by as much as 10% or 15% from the general level of excellence he established over the past two years (and no, this is not to be read too literally by the statistically-minded — it’s just a shorthand attempt at quantifying a “down year”).

    But even these scenarios — somewhat over-dramatized, given where his numbers currently sit — are a far cry from asking whether Lincecum is “broken.” I really don’t understand the use of an article that hints at some catastrophic problem (implicitly medical) without anything other than a superficial analysis of two and a half months of starts.

    Enough people in baseball — be they scouts, mainstream media echolalians, or even the statistical cognoscenti — have tried to predict the imminent destruction of Lincecum that I really don’t see the appeal. How about we all take a deep breath and give him some time to figure out his incredibly complex mechanics and establish a rhythm like he had in, oh, April? At the very least, let’s leave the dramatics of being “broken” out of this.

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  18. Scott says:

    Dave Cameron saying one start is reason to be worried? I could’ve swore this was the same guy telling everybody to watch out for small sample sizes.

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    • David says:

      Only when it proves his point.

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      • SharksRog says:

        I don’t think you guys are being fair to Dave. He is focusing on one start (concerning, frankly. Even Tim will tell you he had nothing, and his face told us he had no answers, either.), but he is looking at a trend that began after Tim got off to a fantastic start to this season. Since then he has indeed been very inconsistent.

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    • Brian says:

      I’m not trying to take any “sides” here and you might have a point. I’m not trying to put myself into Dave Cameron’s head but maybe part of the reason for the post(I trust the fact that Cameron has legitimate concerns) is that when elite players have bits of “rough” stretches, I’m guilty along with some others for overreacting or “jumping off the bandwagon or cliff”. Sometimes or often, as a fan, I will overreact if say, Ubaldo Jimenez, Francisco Liriano, Josh Johnson, Roy Halladay,etc. gives up a lot of runs and maybe gets chased even if they did not pitch all that badly. I know that it is foolish to judge an elite pitcher after a couple of below average or slightly above average starts. A lot of pitchers if not all pitchers and players play through nagging injuries or problems so I can’t act like Lincecum has never gone through this even in 2008.

      Again, I’m pretty sure Dave Cameron is not jumping off the bandwagon but is realy concerned with the walks or command. I give him kudos for at least writing the article and doing the needed research even if it seemed a little bit reactionary to some.

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    • Wobatus says:

      I don’t think Dave is reacting to one start. He’s analyzing that start as part of a larger trend and other evidence (the relatively mediocre, for Lincecum, 2 months of this season, the declining velocity, and the declining strikeout numbers and bouts of control issues). Folks have replied with some valid reasons to perhaps mitigate some of those concerns, and he has still been a fine pitcher overall this season, but he clearly hasn’t been as dominant. The title is a bit provocative, and maybe instead of broken we can ask if he isn’t a tad torn and frayed.

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    • B says:

      Also, keep in mind what constitutes a “small sample” varies by what we’re looking at. If you’re looking at something like ERA or W-L record, you need a lot of starts, maybe even more than a full season, to really get an idea of how the pitcher is pitching with a good deal of accuracy. You need less than that with FIP. Once you start talking about something like velocity…..well, all you need is a game or two to know something is wrong (and of course, you should try to control for things ilke whether the gun is hot/cold, as mentioned earlier).

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  19. durs836 says:

    His issue is most definitely some sort of minor injury with his hand, at least last night’s start. The way the ball came out of his hand on that blooper reel pitch, looked as if he barely could grip the ball. It also marries up with the reports that have bubbled up since ST concerning blisters and a split finger nail.

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  20. SF 55 for life says:

    I’m buying the blister/split nail talk. After the first batter of the game I could tell something wasn’t right with Timmy. He was so dominate in April and all of a sudden he hit a wall and then we start hearing about blisters, I think I can belive that.

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  21. trend says:

    Maybe Dave Cameron is worried since Lincecum’s FB velocity has been decreasing for years now. Perhaps the last start was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

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  22. The Enchanter says:

    Cameron, you are getting lazy. I don’t think this article is up to your previous analytic abilities.

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  23. B says:

    I’ve been worried about Lincecum for a while now. When he first came up, which was only 34 years ago, he was electric. Sitting mid-90′s, crank it up to 98-99…he wasn’t nearly the pitcher he is now in terms of command/control and offspeed stuff, but man he had a live arm. His stuff has been going downhill ever since, at a rate that alarms me. No need to panic because of one start, but the trend from ’08-present is alarming. Until he starts cranking it up higher than he has been the last season and a half (if he ever does), there’s always going to be a part of me that worries about his future…

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  24. Crumpled Stiltskin says:

    There is another possibility, and that’s that very few pitchers throughout all of history string together 7 Maddux, Pedro or Koufax type seasons in a row. If this is a bad season, Tom Seaver didn’t even do it, if you consider the run scoring climate of the era he played in. So perhaps one off season is just one off season? And perhaps it has something to do with bad luck, as mentioned, like blisters, common pitcher’s ailments that are serious detriments to their pitching ability, but not nearly enough to land someone on the dl.
    .
    Also, his season on the whole is still pretty good as of now, probably slightly better comparatively than Seaver’s worst seasons when he was great, and those seasons were pretty good as well.

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  25. Jay says:

    I’ve watched most of his starts this year, and it’s almost like watching two different pitchers. When he is on, his fastball is in the low-mid 90s, all his pitches have movement, and he gets a bunch of swing-throughs. When he’s off, his velocity is in the high 80s to occasional low 90s, and he hangs his curve a bunch.

    I think the most important factor in trying to figure out what’s going on is the inconsistency. Yes, his fastball has dropped a bit from when he started, and there might be something to that. But in figuring out what’s going on this year, the important factor is that his fastball will be at 93-94 one game and then 89-90 another game. If he was badly injured, you’d think the velocity would dip and then plateau or continue to dip.

    Because his bad starts with low velocity are mixed in with good starts with high velocity, and it’s been this way for a good part of the season, it makes the most sense that he’s dealing with mechanical issues or intermittent blisters or other problems that come and go quickly…

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  26. fergie348 says:

    Let’s see – diminished velocity, less late movement on the changup and less command of the curveball. Heck, less command of all the pitches. And it’s intermittent, with his best start in months coming after a period of extended rest.

    Yes, I think we have a hypothesis. The only questions now are whether the physical issues he’s having are confined to the upper body, the lower body or mixed and whether they’re due to injury or fatigue or both.

    Bottom line, as the Giants head down the stretch it’s likely that they’ll have to skip a couple of Tim’s starts. The larger question is who gets those starts. Please, not Wellemeyer..

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  27. Saint says:

    Is Clayton broken? In his last start, Kershaw’s fastball averaged 91.5 mph according to PitchFX, down from his season average of 92.7 and his career average of 93.5. What’s more, in his start before that, he managed just 4.1 innings, gave up five runs while walking three and striking out only one. Time to worry about Clayton Kershaw.

    lol fangraphs

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    • SharksRog says:

      Maybe the Dodger Stadium gun was a little slow that night. Little question that Tim had almost nothing though.

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    • Saint says:

      I am now expecting a Is Ubaldo Broken? article now that his era is well over 9 for his last two starts with a bb/9 of what, 10? 11? Get on it, Dave.

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  28. TheFreak says:

    Yet, despite the “declining” stuff, Timmy has still put together a 10-4, 3.18 ERA, NL leading K season. I understand that there is some worry. At the beginning of 2009, I was worried when his first two starts were sub-par. But he went on to win the Cy Young anyway. Just because all we’ve seen from him is excellent, doesn’t mean we will see excellence every year. He’s been very good in 2010, not excellent. All great pitchers have had seasons where they are good, but not excellent. Normally, they return to form the next season.

    Although, I see no reason why he can’t come back to win the Cy Young for the third straight year. He just needs to bring back the excellence. And even if not this year, it will happen sometime in the near future.

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    • SharksRog says:

      It is true that we have set our standards so high for Tim that even though his ERA this season in a high-scoring era is lower than the career ERA’s of most Hall of Fame pitchers since the dead-ball era, we are highly disapppointed.

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  29. mowill says:

    Told everyone so from the get.

    Slightly built power pitchers like Lincecum always flame out in the end.

    And once the injuries start it is like having an old car something else will break just about every year.

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  30. fgbomber says:

    Tim’s Cy Young seasons had him pretty high up the abuse points leader boards. The Giants were putting him out there for 120+ pitch complete games at the end of the season when they had nothing to play for. It was terrible abuse for a young pitcher, and now they’re paying for it.

    He’s miraculously survived his pitching motion, and the Giants forced the issue.

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  31. pounded clown says:

    One thing that it could be and I believe that this is why you see some young pitchers struggle after a season or a couple of seasons of pitching, is ligament laxity, an overuse condition or hypermobility (double jointed), a congential condition, both characterized by the lengthening of ligaments that permits greater range of motion of the joint the ligaments holds together. Depending on the joints and the activity the added flexibility can be a bonus for acrobats, contortionist, gymnasts, dancer, kickboxers, hockey goalies and perhaps a pitcher but not without drawbacks. The increased range in motion means less joint stability and for a pitcher this could definitely manifest in velocity drops. It is often treated conservatively with physical therapy and strengthening the surrounding musculature however as the pitcher throws during a game those muscles will fatigue which unable to achieve the same amount of tension, will leave the joint less protected and therefore suspectible to damage as well as cause noticable performance drops. Lesser know more aggressive treatments are prolotherapy and plasma rich platelet therapy (Cliff Lee’s oblique). Both treatments involve injections of a solution where connective tissue meets bone to stimulate and immune response. During this process (inflammation), new tissue is laid down the subsequent dehyrdation reactions remove water from the surrounding tissue which draws the ligament tight. In the case of prolotherapy glucose and xylocaine solution is used and a platelet (seperated from patient’s blood) solution is used for the other which is more potent since it uses stem cells to illict an even stronger immune response. Hippocrates did something similar with javelin throwers who often developed lax shoulder ligaments. However he used red hot iron spikes kick start the inflammation process. As to Cliff Lee note that it was said that the injections he received were experimental. I am not sure if that was referring to the techique itself which is relatively new (prolotherapy has been used for 20-30 years but isn’t widely know) or an experimental use of the technique i.e if the oblique strain wasn’t near bone or cartligde and the injection was into soft tissue.

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  32. SnowLeopard says:

    Not sure that because The Enchanter is, over all this year, having a good season, that there’s no grounds for concern with him. He’s been about average for almost half a season now. *Something*’s up, whether it’s ligaments, fingernail, mental, workload, age, whatever, I don’t know.
    (second column includes yesterdays starts vs DBags)

    April 2, 2008-May 15, 2010 (74 starts)
    May 20, 2010-July 25, 2010 (13 starts)
    2.46 4.06 ERA
    38-12 5-4 Record
    0.760 0.556 Win%
    10.54 8.12 K/9
    2.91 4.17 BB/9
    0.43 0.66 HR/9
    0.285 0.321 BABIP
    63.1 51.4 Avg GSc

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    • SnowLeopard says:

      As I suspected might happen: Formatting Fail.

      Let’s try this:

      April 2, 2008-May 15, 2010 (74 starts)
      2.46 ERA
      38-12 Record
      0.760 Win%
      10.54 K/9
      2.91 BB/9
      0.43 HR/9
      0.285 BABIP
      63.1 Avg GSc

      May 20, 2010-July 25, 2010 (13 starts)
      4.06 ERA
      5-4 Record
      0.556 Win%
      8.12 K/9
      4.17 BB/9
      0.66 HR/9
      0.321 BABIP
      51.4 Avg GSc

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  33. wkatzen says:

    14 K
    CGSO
    2 hits
    1 walk

    Sorry to reply so long after the fact but… 96 game rating.

    Halladay’s no-no? 94.

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