After three consecutive cruel seasons, it looks like Tim Lincecum has found his groove again; well at least if you only look at his ERA.
From 2008 to 2011 he threw 881 2/3 innings with a 2.81 ERA, 2.81 FIP, 3.10 xFIP with a 26.9 K%, 8.7 BB%. His fly ball to home run ratio was 7.2%. And his fastball averaged 92.6 MPH via pitch f/x. Now let’s compare this to his recent seasons.
From 2012 to 2014 Lincecum threw 539 1/3 innings with a 4.76 ERA, 4.05 FIP, 3.72 xFIP. His K% dropped to 22.1% and his BB% increased to 9.8% while his home run to fly ball ratio heavily increased to 13.4%. His fastball velocity has dropped from 90.4 MPH to 90.2 to 89.6, and now 87.6 in 2015.
Now for 2015 Lincecum. His K% has decreased to 19.4%, BB% to 9.7%, but his home run to fly ball ratio has drastically decreased to 3.6% in 36 innings pitched. His xFIP is 3.83, worse than 2012 (3.82), 2013 (3.56), and 2014 (3.81), but his FIP has improved to 3.12.
The puzzling part is his groundball rate. His career average sits around 45%, but this season it’s at 54%.
From Brooks Baseball: Notice the change in sinker, 4-seam frequency. The movement hasn’t necessarily improved this season, but it’s sure helping him get more groundballs. He’s also laying off his slider this year and turning to his splitter and curveball. It would be in Lincecum’s best interest to become a groundball machine by throwing sinkers and splitters that dive out of the zone.
His swing rate has climbed to 47.1%, a career high while his swinging strike rate has risen to 10.9%, similar to his career averages.
Now the most important part is run prevention and he has been spectacular at that this season with just a 2.00 ERA, but the question is can he sustain it or at least not regress to 2012-2014 Lincecum. His xFIP says big time regression, but we’ll see. Giants should hope for average Lincecum for the rest of the season.