It seems like just yesterday San Francisco Giants pitcher, Tim Lincecum was one of the best pitchers in baseball. Since 2011, Lincecum has had a pretty big fall from grace; in 2012 he finished with an ERA of 5.18 and a career high, 15 losses. Since then, he’s been mediocre at best, finishing the 2013 season with a 4.37 ERA, and the 2014 season with a 4.74. What is puzzling about Lincecum’s struggles is that, during the last two seasons he’s thrown two no-hitters. Now, that’s not to say that he can get back to a Cy Young level of pitching, but everything coming out of Giants camp about Lincecum has been positive so far.
Reports are that Tim Lincecum’s fastball is looking as deceptive as ever, he’s more balanced, his delivery is much smoother, he’s hitting corners and leaving hitters confused. Lincecum of five years ago had a nasty fastball that he could get up to the mid to high-90s, but those days are over. Old Lincecum’s repertoire also featured one of the game’s best changeups, and what made it so hard to hit was his ability to make it sink. In his prime, that pitch was virtually unhittable. It was extremely deceptive because it looked like a fastball until it hit the strike-zone and then would just drop. His best pitch last season was his slider, batters hit just .230 against it and it became his main strikeout pitch. Lincecum lost a lot of the command he had on his fastball, and the changeup followed. Giants’ first basemen Brandon Belt said of Lincecum’s fastball, “it gets on you a little quicker than you expected. I thought the breaking stuff had more life to it. He was hitting corners, in and out. He didn’t seem to have any problem with that.“ This is definitely encouraging for the 30-year-old Lincecum, especially since he was struggling the last few years. So what did Lincecum do in the off-season to help get him ready for this season? He went to his dad for help.
Chris Lincecum, Tim’s father, played an integral part in the development of Tim’s skills and mechanics, two Cy-Young awards and a few World Series wins later, it’s all about regaining confidence and re-tooling what made him dominant at one time. It’s hard to try to fix Lincecum because his delivery is so unorthodox, not a lot of people besides Tim and Chris Linceceum know how it moves and it also doesn’t help he’s lost velocity on all of his pitches. Age plays a large part in the breakdown of a pitcher, but he is still fairly young, so he has time to try to fix it before he starts to decline physically. Lincecum was relegated to the bullpen last season, but he is working to win back a spot in the starting rotation, Bruce Bochy said it’s possible. Can he get back to the same pitcher he was five or six years ago? Probably not, but he’s shown flashes during the last few seasons of how good he can still be. Maybe the real reason Tim Lincecum is showing how dominant he can be is because his long hair is back, regardless, baseball is much more fun when he is pitching well and all signs seem to be pointing up.