A lot of power pitchers start slowly out of the gate, but Tim Lincecum is crawling. Through his first three starts of the season, Lincecum has allowed a total of 16 earned runs and 22 hits. His ERA is currently sitting at an absurd 10.54, so unless he’s struggling through some sort of serious injury, we know better days lie ahead. As for what the issue could be at the moment, pitching legend John Smoltz thinks it may be mental — for both The Freak and his opponents.
“I mean, he knows how to pitch, he’ll battle his way through it but I would say last year was not the same Lincecum that we’ve seen that has won two Cy Youngs and has dominated pitching,” Smoltz told Sirius/XM radio Wednesday according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “And I think once you start showing those cracks or once it starts showing a little more human factor, I mean, the edge is gone a little bit when you face a guy like this. He had an edge, much like Tiger (Woods). These elite pitchers have an edge when they get on the mound. The other team knows, ‘Shoot, we’re in trouble.’
“And right now you just want to label it as, OK, three rough starts, but I think all eyes are going to be on him to see, for the outside looking in, when does his fastball pop again, his split go down, his curveball, his changeup? Those are the things, hitters will tell you, and I used to work on this theory: I never concerned myself with one or two bad games. Three in a row? Word’s getting around. I always used to use three as the gauge to say, ‘OK, I gotta make some adjustments here as a pitcher.’”
I don’t know if I’d feel comfortable saying The Freak has lost his edge just yet, but there is some merit to what Smoltz is saying. When Lincecum is in a groove and striking out 10 hitters a game, his stuff is electric. Not only is it electric, but opponents know it’s electric. Opposing hitters are guessing when a guy like Lincecum is on his game, and even if they guess right it may not matter.
The good news for the Giants is we’re only three starts in. Lincecum had a “down” year last season based on his record, but his ERA was still well below 3.00. I’d be surprised if that 10.54 ERA didn’t start sinking in the very near future.
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