Tag Archives: pitching

Are you Concerned About the Pitching?


Let’s take a quick glimpse into the Giants spring training stats as of today. Ok, we all know that some players just “tinker” in the spring and settle down once the regular season starts, and this IS a small sample size, but it’s worth noting that the Giants have some new players that may be giving Giants fans a little indigestion.

 1. Jeff Samardzija

8.31 ERA in 13 IP, .382 BAA, 1.92 WHIP, 3 HR, 21 H

Maybe he took a little of the American League with him in his luggage. Hey, and I spelled his name correctly!

2. Jake Peavy

8.53 ERA in 12.2 IP, .450 BAA, 2.37 WHIP, 4 HR, 27 H

He always starts slow?

3. Madison Bumgarner

10.57 ERA in 7.2 IP, .371 BAA, 1.70 WHIP, 13 H 

Ok, we’re not really concerned, right? (about his sore foot, obliques, maybe his shaven beard that supplied him strength?)

4. Johnny Cueto

16.62 ERA in 4.1 IP, .409 BAA, 2.54 WHIP, 9 H

So, he used the word “testiculos” yesterday. So, there’s that.

5. Matt Cain

10.12 ERA in 2.2 IP, .538 BAA, 3.75 WHIP, 7 H

I want this guy to do well this year….so badly. Really. He’s such a nice guy.


Honestly, he and Samardzija give me the most concern. Jeff is a horse like Matt used to be, but Cain is just an injury factory at this point, and his career is definitely on the downward trend.

I listed all five of these pitchers, despite their low inning totals, because, well, THEY’RE THE STARTING FIVE! Combined they are:

9.82 ERA in 40.1 IP, 13 HR, 77 H

I’m pretty sure I could’ve pitched to 3 batters without significantly raising these numbers much. Thirteen! homeruns in 40.1 innings? 77 hits?! Egad, it’s batting practice, or they are helping some minor leaguers out.

Now, this could be just a bad week for starters in the regular season, and certainly they won’t have this line during the year, but does it give you cause for concern?


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Timmy 2.0

Timmy 2.0 dominated for his fourth-straight start. (Eric Risberg/AP)

We’ve all been hoping for his emergence, or better yet, his re-emergence as the dominant starter he once was. Even if he retired today, he would be one of the most popular Giants of all time with 2 rings, 2 Cy Youngs, 2 no-hitters, and a splash of playoff heroics. Yet, he just turned 30 last month, and that turn of the decade seemed to ring in a new Timmy, version 2.0. I just turned 40, but the only resurgence I’ve seen is the fat in my man-boobs.

We’ve seen flashes of brilliance in his last two dismal seasons, but nothing that was sustained, until now. Over his last four starts, he’s allowed only one run over a span of 30 1/3 innings. He had a scoreless streak of 23 innings that was snapped by a solo homerun, and he hadn’t had a streak like that since 2009, which was in between his two Cy Young seasons.

So why the change? We know his fastball velocity is the lowest it’s ever been, and will continue to drop with age. Perhaps he’s finally matured to the point where he trusts location more than “stuff.” He’s said as much in interviews, but the proof didn’t exist. Is that mentality finally translating to the field? To my un-professional eye (but I did just ‘retire’ after playing 20 years of amateur baseball, so at least I’ve seen a loooot of pitching), he is certainly more consistent, and he’s been pitching backwards as of late, with the curveball or change-up first, setting up fastballs low and on the corners, followed by either a change or another curve to keep hitters off-balance.

And to think that if Timmy was up to his old antics, the Giants would have even had a WORSE month of June? Is that possible? Let’s look at the starting rotation for the last 30 days:

Tim Lincecum 4 1 1.49 42.1 1 12 0.140 0.76 0.171
Tim Hudson 1 4 4.91 36.2 3 8 0.297 1.42 0.336
Ryan Vogelsong 1 3 4.13 28.1 0 7 0.259 1.24 0.333
Matt Cain 1 3 4.83 31.2 4 9 0.282 1.39 0.323
Madison Bumgarner 1 3 5.18 33 2 13 0.260 1.39 0.320


Each starter only has one win in the last month, yet Timmy has four. But look at that sexy WHIP and BABIP. I know numbers turn our readers on, but you should probably go ahead and lather those up with oil, because they’re not getting any better than that. What’s remarkable is that Timmy’s walk percentage, although down slightly, is comparable with the other starters, and his strikeout percentage is actually second-lowest in the last month. It’s the quality of the pitches he’s making. His BABIP is a measly .171, which means players are making very weak contact, also translating into the .140 average against.

Now, let’s eliminate that one loss and look at his last four starts as a whole: his ERA, BA against and BABIP are 0.30, 0.101, and 0.120, respectively. Are you kidding me?!

The analysts all talk about his pitch selection. Let’s see how that stacks up in his last four starts vs his career:

Year FA% FT% SL% CU% CH%
Last 4 starts 24.8% 18.3% 27.2% 7.4% 22.3%
2014 30.5% 15.6% 27.6% 10.4% 15.8%
2013 37.2% 12.4% 21.2% 10.7% 17.6%
2012 39.3% 12.3% 21.3% 10.7% 16.0%
2011 42.1% 12.6% 24.1% 6.4% 14.4%
2010 37.9% 15.2% 7.2% 16.4% 21.3%
2009 55.1% 0.7% 7.1% 18.2% 18.8%
2008 65.5% 9.4% 9.8% 15.3%


I’ve heard a lot about his curveball lately, and it does LOOK GOOD, but he’s only thrown it 7.4% of the time in his last four starts, which is much lower than his career average. What’s notable to me is how his changeup (CH%) has replaced many fastballs (FA%), having thrown almost as many changeups as heaters. I think this is one key to his recent success, aside from location being number one. Delving further into his fastball selection, although that percentage is way down, he’s relying on the two-seamer (FT%) more than he ever has, comprising roughly 2 out of 3 fastballs over his last four starts. Historically, he’s used that pitch for less than half of his fastballs, going with the four-seamer the majority of the time, which is a higher-velocity pitch. The two-seamer has more movement than the four-seamer, indicating that he’s sacrificing a bit of velocity for movement, which is only adding to the reduction in BABIP. The variance of his pitch selection is also the lowest its ever been, by far, and this may keep the batters guessing a little bit more with a more even distribution of pitches.

One caveat that must be pointed out. Three of these four starts were against the Padres and D’backs, both woefully underperforming offensively this year. He did have a commanding start against St. Louis, but this is a small, yet promising sample size.

Maybe Timmy finally has reinvented himself, or version 2.0 will need to be returned before the warranty expires.


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Lincecum Doesn’t “Scatter”

By Chad King

As the sky is rapidly descending in the Little Chicken world of Lincecum-Land, I wanted to take a deeper look at exactly, er, statistically, anyway, what is going on and perhaps surmise a reason as to why the “ace” is struggling so mightily this season. Typical explanations that I hear on the crazy train that is the KNBR caller populous are velocity and location. I think velocity has very little to do with his current struggles. Yes, his fastball is averaging 90.2 mph this season, down from 92.2 in 2011 and 91.2 in 2010, but he was touching 93 yesterday against the Padres. I think his velocity comes and goes by start but doesn’t have a real net affect on the outcome as much as his ability to locate his pitches. His walks per 9 IP and walk average is way up, which suggests lack of command, and that lack of command will not only translate into walks, but also pitches over the middle of the plate that were originally intended to catch a corner or drop low (see 0-2 counts on Carlos Quentin, Tony Gwynn Jr., etc. for less than optimal results). This has resulted in a much higher batting average against, hits per 9 innings, and even batting average for balls hit in play, being way above the league average (see those purty graphs below for my attempt to convince you that I know what I’m talking about).

They are just lines, people

Some lines going up are good, however, these particular lines…not so much

But wait, what is this graph? LOB%? Is that how often he lobs the ball to his opponent?

Timmy, that green line’s a little too sloped there…bring it up a bit, will ya?

No, although his performance may indicate that he’s doing that more often; this shows how many runners he leaves on base. LOB% and ERA are inverse of each other, as one rises, the other falls; the lower the LOB%, the higher the ERA. The funny thing is, historically, pitchers with high strikeout percentages will have higher LOB% as they can limit the number of scoring opportunities via sac flies, fielders choices and the like. Timmy’s strikeouts have barely dipped, still averaging 24.1% (24.4% in 2011). Yet, his LOB% has absolutely plummeted to 60.9% what FanGraphs calls “awful.” This dramatic drop is out of proportion to the drop in his other stats. The league average over the years is 72% and Lincecum’s lowest LOB% is 75.9% in 2009.

What can be attributed to such a monumental drop in LOB%? I believe it’s the all too frequent “big inning.” He has allowed 3 or more earned runs in one inning in 8 of his 12 starts. You know that old saying, “pitcher X scattered 8 hits and 4 walks over 7 innings?” Well, Timmy doesn’t “scatter,” he “lumps.” Unfortunately, these big innings unravel faster than my toddler’s temper tantrum when he doesn’t get his lollipop. He can be cruising and just completely run into a series of walks, a couple of bloops, and then a bomb, all in a series of 4 or 5 hitters. Take a look at his game log by start and inning. I’ve highlighted these “big innings,” which have accounted for 30 of his 43 earned runs. To put another way, he has given up 70% of his earned runs in a total of less than 8 of his 66.1 innings pitched (several of these starts he didn’t even finish the “big inning”).

The bottom line is that the Giants are now 2-10 when Lincecum starts, including 7 consecutive losses. They’ve only lost 25 games this year.

He said yesterday that he might be pulling out of his funk, but until he can prove it by avoiding a string of mental lapses that lead to these big innings, I’m not buying it. Maybe they should let Timmy smoke? More Giants fans are probably doing so now.

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