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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

John D’Acquisto: We Need To Talk About Timmy (Lincecum)

And John D’Acquisto knows about heat…in more ways than one.

A biomechanical engineer would answer yes; he is tired and probably burned out from overwork. It happened to me after throwing 15,000 pitches from my debut in rookie league into my first full MLB season and I was a lot bigger than Tim by a good 45 pounds with harder stuff.

...The other problem is that the last time I was told, Tim’s Dad, Chris Lincecum, was his actual pitching coach and even San Francisco Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti is not allowed to speak with Tim about his motion. From my view, it looks though the creator of Tim’s motion, his Dad, is simply unable to solve his son’s problem or alleviate the pain being generated to his knee. Sort of a sticky wicket, if you ask me.

If I am paying someone $15 Million to pitch for my team and I have a rather experienced and successful major league pitcher who is my coach, the longtime coach of the staff, the only coach the pitcher has ever known at the major-league level, then Chris should allow Righetti to help out. The Lincecums really keep it close to the vest, which in my opinion can only lead to disaster.

None of these issues will ruin Tim or change the course of his career, if they are addressed now. Neglect may cause a major injury and set him back to some degree. However, you can expect him to strike out fewer batters, allow more free passes, and flash less power than in seasons past. A pitcher does not need God-like stuff to blank opposing lineups and win ballgames. The lack of a consistent changeup, however, will eventually add to his woes when it comes to getting out the elite hitters and teams that he will have to face going forward in 2012…The major questions remain. Is it too late to fix Timmy’s woes before the playoffs begin? More important, will he seek the proper help to analyze his motion and correct the problem? These are the issues that I see.

Thanks to Mike.

Repoz Posted: June 26, 2012 at 08:05 AM | 27 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: giants, health, sabermetrics

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   1. Lassus Posted: June 26, 2012 at 11:36 AM (#4166587)
The other problem is that the last time I was told, Tim’s Dad, Chris Lincecum, was his actual pitching coach and even San Francisco Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti is not allowed to speak with Tim about his motion.

I don't ever remember having heard this to this extent. Locals, is this the case?
   2. zenbitz Posted: June 26, 2012 at 12:07 PM (#4166632)
I don't think this is true. Or at least in the numerous Lincecum wailing threads I have never heard this complaint.
   3. Flynn Posted: June 26, 2012 at 12:40 PM (#4166666)
It's not true. Chris Lincecum knows Tim's motion at least as well as Rags does, but he's not micromanaging his son. He's not really a helicopter dad at all from what I understand.
   4. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: June 26, 2012 at 12:54 PM (#4166685)
If he were a helicopter dad, I'd imagine his kid would be a little more discreet about being a stoner.

When it comes to Lincecum, I think it's just one of those things: some bodies have fewer good pitches in them than others. He might get back to peak form one day, but he was always small and has always trained very hard. It's possible that he just used himself up.
   5. Steve Treder Posted: June 26, 2012 at 01:09 PM (#4166712)
Yes, D'Acquisto is wrong regarding Lincecum's dad.

And, certainly it's possible we're witnessing the smashing-into-the-wall of Lincecum's career. But it's also possible we aren't. His strikeout rate remains quite healthy; the most notable thing about his stat line this year is the ridiculous BABIP, which would seem likely to come down.

Plus, his ERA is as terrible as it is because his outings have been woefully susceptible to the "one bad inning" syndrome, in which he just cannot extricate himself from trouble in one or two sequences, while mowing them down in nearly every other inning.

If I were the Giants, I'd have sat him down for a turn or two already this year, as I think he is a bit physically ragged and could probably benefit from a breather, and perhaps a more modulated workload going forward. Predicting pitcher is a fool's errand, so here I go: I don't think Lincecum is in fatal free-fall, but is instead going through the mid-career crisis that is very common in pitchers, especially hard-throwing starters. I think he'll come out of this as an effective pitcher, though never again the dominant force he was at his peak.
   6. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: June 26, 2012 at 01:16 PM (#4166725)
If Timmy's dad is really his sole pitching,coach, then maybe the Giants should hire him, 'cause, on the whole, he's been pretty successful with the two Cy Youngs and all.
   7. ColonelTom Posted: June 26, 2012 at 02:12 PM (#4166814)
I doubt Lincecum's arm is the issue - going strictly by the numbers, this looks like a mechanical problem. Something's very wrong this year, but only when Lincecum pitches from the stretch. In 2011, Lincecum was basically the same pitcher from the windup or the stretch:

Nobody on: .248/.326/.382 (.324 BABIP), 1 BB per 10.1 PA, 1 K per 4.1 PA
Runners on: .184/.270/.290 (.236 BABIP), 1 BB per 11.0 PA, 1 K per 4.1 PA

This year, he's roughly the same guy from the windup (more K, fewer BB, higher ISO), but he's awful from the stretch:

Nobody on: .231/.302/.425 (.311 BABIP), 1 BB per 11.4 PA, 1 K per 3.4 PA
Runners on: .290/.399/.435 (.349 BABIP), 1 BB per 6.4 PA, 1 K per 5.7 PA

That's why he's having "one bad inning syndrome."
   8. zenbitz Posted: June 26, 2012 at 02:51 PM (#4166880)
I don't think 7 implies "no arm" issue - it seems probable that his mechanical issues are coupled to his (not atypical) drop in FB velocity. And in fact his issues from the stretch may simply be pain or joint stress that prevents him from being mechanically sound from the stretch.

The excerpt above is the first I heard of "knee pain" as well.

I think you could even argue that the "runners on" issue is just small sample size, magnified by the leverage of pitching with runners on base. However, from watching games on TV, the pitches that are getting hit are really quite fat - literally grabbing too much plate for their velocity/movement.



   9. Steve Treder Posted: June 26, 2012 at 03:11 PM (#4166908)
However, from watching games on TV, the pitches that are getting hit are really quite fat - literally grabbing too much plate for their velocity/movement.

Yes, and he's also given up some really bad walks in those rallies, such as the bases-loaded walk to Brandon Inge in the first inning on Friday night. None of those balls were close. You just cannot be doing stuff like that.

Both the fat pitch down the middle and the ball bouncing in the dirt are examples of erratic control, which is the root of his struggle. His stuff is still generally nasty, but not nasty enough to allow major lapses in location.
   10. ColonelTom Posted: June 26, 2012 at 03:20 PM (#4166921)
Fair point on the arm, Zen. I'm not sure where D'Acquisto is getting his information on Lincecum's knee - perhaps from the same source that told him Lincecum is off-limits to the coaching staff.

As for the sample size, K and BB rates stabilize very quickly (at least per the SABR writeup on DIPS). I doubt that we're looking at small-sample noise there.
   11. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: June 26, 2012 at 03:29 PM (#4166940)
He sounds a little like Jake Arrieta. Arrieta has good peripherals and is striking out a lot of guys, but he has a really high BABIP and is also prone to big innings. He seems to be terrible from the stretch.
   12. SG Posted: June 26, 2012 at 03:35 PM (#4166949)
Sounds a bit like Ivan Nova too. He's had pretty good peripherals almost all year but was getting tatooed for a while. Seems to have gotten better.

The thing with Lincecum is he has such an established record of awesomeness it's not the same thing as seeing an unproven/relatively new pitcher like Nova or Arrieta going through a period of high BABIP and waiting to see if it will come down. Reading about possible knee pain makes this seem like something a bit more involved than bad luck.

Knee pain shouldn't lead to significantly different performance from the stretch though, I don't think.
   13. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: June 26, 2012 at 04:33 PM (#4167061)
Knee pain shouldn't lead to significantly different performance from the stretch though, I don't think.
Can we really say that, though? Isn't it totally possible that the knee (for whatever reason) bothers Lincecum more when he throws from the stretch than the wind-up? I have no idea if that is the case, but it doesn't seem like something out of the range of possibility.
   14. Walt Davis Posted: June 26, 2012 at 05:47 PM (#4167134)
The knee bit is interesting. It was pure uninformed speculation, but way back when CBW* posted the video of Lincecum I said it seemed like it would put a lot of stress on his landing knee. Of course I don't know if it's his landing knee that's supposedly hurt.

*CBW being a huge Lincecum booster pre-draft.
   15. smileyy Posted: June 26, 2012 at 08:53 PM (#4167284)
It happened to me after throwing 15,000 pitches from my debut in rookie league into my first full MLB season and I was a lot bigger than Tim by a good 45 pounds with harder stuff.


And nobody knows enough about pitching to know whether having 45 extra lbs of muscle or fat or testes and/or harder stuff makes one more or less prone to overwork, injury, or anything else.
   16. Ron J Posted: June 26, 2012 at 10:12 PM (#4167373)
#15 Actually there's at least one study that appears to show that larger pitcher might be more durable. IIRC it's by Craig Wright in the Diamond Appraised. And yes, all sorts of hedging. Including the possibility that size has nothing to do with anything -- that power pitchers a) tend to be larger (speculation on my part) and b) power pitchers are as a group the most durable (not speculation, though God knows plenty of power pitchers have had major injury problems)
   17. Sunday silence Posted: June 26, 2012 at 11:26 PM (#4167429)
based on what was said above: Could it not be mental?

If the problem is with runners on perhaps he goes back to nibbling at the corners or whatever approach he takes that's not working. ANd he's worried about what happened last week in Milaukee and then he's making a mistake over the plate to someone he's not supposed to...

Just saying, assuming the most telling stat is the one with runners on, it could still be a mental issue. No way to really tell from the stat. record alone I dont think.
   18. zachtoma Posted: June 27, 2012 at 03:40 AM (#4167466)
#16 I thought the study showed that it's not just "larger" pitchers that might be more durable, but specifically "heavier" pitchers - CC Sabathia being the contemporary case in point.

Also, Lincecum is 28, and raw athleticism tends to decline before baseball skills do. So this is pure speculation, but given the extreme nature of his windup and motion, he'd be particularly susceptible to just a little athletic decline.

But... I mostly agree with #17 that it could well be mental. I've watched him a lot this year, and he often looks like a basketcase in one inning only to be unhittable for the next three. The first inning is usually his worst. I think if he can get through the lineup the first time without allowing a run, it would do him a world of good. He's facing the Dodgers tomorrow and they haven't scored in 21 innings. It's a real good opportunity for him to get back on track.
   19. zenbitz Posted: June 27, 2012 at 04:35 PM (#4167998)
He's facing the Dodgers tomorrow and they haven't scored in 21 innings. It's a real good opportunity for him to get back on track.


Well, someone's slump will get busted; one way or the other.

Through 3, Lincecum has given up 2 hits (inc. a 2B to Billingsly), 1 BB and 3Ks. And singled and scored the first run!
   20. zenbitz Posted: June 27, 2012 at 06:45 PM (#4168121)
HE'S CURED!
   21. Fastballjohnd Posted: June 30, 2012 at 11:32 AM (#4170036)
Yes, D'Acquisto is wrong regarding Lincecum's dad.
No Steve I am not wrong... John Cumberland and I were talking to Dave Rahgetti at 2008 reunion and he told me and John that he could not work with Tim because Chris Lincecum was his Pitching coach or designer.

"Chris Lincecum, his father, best friend and mentor, picked up the phone in his Seattle home. The two talked about everything else until finally discussing the event that could determine Tim Lincecum's fate." That questions his integrity and character,” Chris Lincecum said. “Those are fighting words to me.”

"The elder Lincecum believes it was more mechanical than anything, and gave Tim a few suggestions, as he has done throughout his career. Tim made some tweaks, with a little extra conditioning thrown in. Even when Tim was in the midst of his losing streak. Chris saw encouraging signs, and it all came to fruition in September, when Lincecum was 5-1 with a 1.94 ERA. October has been even better."

"Lincecum recorded a key victory in his final regular-season start, a 3-1, 11-strikeout win over Arizona. Three days later, on the final day of the season, they clinched the NL West title with a 3-0 win over the Padres. Chris Lincecum was at AT&T Park in San Francisco, and was allowed into the chaotic clubhouse celebration."

“All in all his mechanics are (as some people have referred to as freakish or un-orthodox) like the old-time pitchers in the 30?s and 40?s and early fifties. Example: Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Satchel Paige, Bob Feller. Carl Hubbell, Juan Marichal… "

"Those athletes" didn’t throw with just there arms and shoulders as probably 70% or more have been doing for the last 40+ years. Those pitchers don’t last for more than 4 to 7 years and usually throw their elbows or shoulders out. Sad thing is that they become pitching coaches and open clinics and teach their mechanics to the children (charging ridiculous fees) addressing their mechanics as “the Pro way” of doing it (after all, all you have to do is watch a game on T.V. and see that most major leaguers are using the muscle-method way of throwing, therefore confirming it), thus creating less than efficient throwers, for the next generation, who in turn throw their arms out and usually can’t understand why. Just watching these types of poor mechanics makes me cringe with pain. Pitching is a position that can be taught to almost anybody, but throwing properly is an art and needs to be respected and constantly adjusted due to growth and muscle development and aging. I love it the most in all sports.”
Chris Lincecum


You tell me, do you see were he worked with Raghetti in any of these interviews and quotes and do you see any kudos to Rahgetti for helping him in any article or interview you see and read. The answer is "NO" and Steve Treder it looks like you are wrong...
   22. Into the Void Posted: June 30, 2012 at 12:33 PM (#4170050)
1) It's Righetti, not 'Raghetti.'
2) You talked to Righetti about Lincecum in 2008- almost four years ago. How do you know things haven't changed since then?
3) I also never see interviews where Cain, Romo, Bumgarner or any other Giants pitcher gives kudos to Righetti-not just Lincecum.
   23. bobm Posted: June 30, 2012 at 01:11 PM (#4170059)
When it comes to Lincecum, I think it's just one of those things: some bodies have fewer good pitches in them than others. He might get back to peak form one day, but he was always small and has always trained very hard. It's possible that he just used himself up.


From: http://thecutoffman.mlblogs.com/2012/06/24/when-aces-struggle-is-tim-lincecum-having-a-historically-bad-season/#more-711


When Aces Struggle: Is Tim Lincecum Having a Historically Bad Season? ...

[2-time Cy Young winner Denny McLain] saw a drastic dip in performance from 1970 onward, and was out of baseball by the time he was 29. In McLain’s last season (age 28), split between Oakland and Atlanta he threw 76.1 innings, posting a 6.37 ERA (56 ERA+), which stands to be the worst season for any pitcher on this entire list. As far as age is concerned, McLain is the closest thing to a comparison that I can find to what has happened to Tim Lincecum, but their struggles occurred for far different reasons. McLain appeared to be losing his interest in baseball, was earning constant suspensions and had a badly fatigued shoulder, whereas Timmy is just having some control problems and a dip in velocity. ...

Lincecum’s struggles are pretty historic for a pitcher who has proven he can sustain dominance for a stretch of multiple seasons. No pitcher outside of Denny McLain, who was a gambler who’s interest in baseball appeared to be fleeting by his late 20s, ever struggled so mightily in the middle of their career. If he continues on this pace, Lincecum’s 2012 season will challenge McLain’s 1972 season as the worst ever by a pitcher who has won multiple Cy Youngs. It will be interesting to see if Lincecum can bounce back during the 2nd half of the season to give the Giants back their ace, who would fit nicely alongside Matt Cain. ...

6 Comments

Just to clear up an error. I severed my rotator cuff that is the reason that I was not effective after 1970. I thank you for the brief conjecture but I have now supplied the facts to you. In fact from 1966 to 1973 I had more than 100 cortisone injections to absolutely no avail. Have a great day.
By denny on June 25, 2012 11:50 AM - Reply

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=1666
By David Hruska on June 25, 2012 1:12 PM - Reply

Also, I know McLain had an injury, its in the article, but the suspensions and gambling issues had a role as well.
By David Hruska on June 25, 2012 1:34 PM -

I am denny mclain and the gambling which was nominal BS had nothing to do with success or not. Nor was the operation available. There was 1 suspension. Suspensions is not correct. No way to be successful with a torn cuff. Have a great day.
By denny on June 25, 2012 3:10 PM -


Nice to know I have a former Cy Young winner as one of my readers. I’d be interested in discussing this more with you if you would like Mr. McLain. My email address is djh781@gmail.com if you would like to drop me a line and let me know what’s on your mind. I’d be very interested to hear what you have to say.
By David Hruska on June 25, 2012 4:56 PM -

Also, the other suspensions I was referring to were for bringing a gun on a team flight, and dousing some reporters with water. From everything I’ve researched those are correct, no?
By David Hruska on June 25, 2012 5:09 PM -

[Emphasis added]
   24. Steve Treder Posted: June 30, 2012 at 02:36 PM (#4170085)
Fastballjohnd! Great to have you chiming in here. You had few fans bigger than me back in the old Candlestick days. I was the skinny teenager in the lower first-base stands yelling his head off. I'm sure you remember. :-)

Hey, you may well we correct regarding Lincecum and Righetti. All I can say is that I haven't heard anything like that in recent years. But it's certain you've forgotten more about the interaction between pitchers and pitching coaches than I will ever learn.
   25. Srul Itza Posted: June 30, 2012 at 02:59 PM (#4170098)
Fastballjohnd: Many thanks for joining the conversation. We have had others in your situation do so, and then been offended and left when some of the less thoughtful denizens of this site chose to offend for the sake of offending. I hope that does not happen here; the thoughtful far outweigh the thoughtless here, and most of us are eager for any and all insights about the game we love.
   26. BFFB Posted: June 30, 2012 at 04:22 PM (#4170146)
#16 I thought the study showed that it's not just "larger" pitchers that might be more durable, but specifically "heavier" pitchers - CC Sabathia being the contemporary case in point.


It's a WAG but I'd assume if that was true a likely reason could be that larger pitchers tend to be quite thick set with tree trunks for legs and I would assume they are able to generate the same power while using their arm less compared to lighter/smaller pitchers.
   27. bobm Posted: July 04, 2012 at 01:02 AM (#4172886)
Lincecum roughed up as Giants fall to Nats in DC
Righty allows eight runs in 3 1/3 innings to fall to 3-9 on the season
By Chris Haft / MLB.com | 7/4/2012 12:08 AM ET

WASHINGTON -- Choose one: Tim Lincecum either regressed to the form that he has displayed for most of the season, fell victim to the withering temperatures, or simply reached a new low Tuesday.

No matter which description of Lincecum's performance one prefers, his apparently soaring fortunes crashed to Earth.

Lincecum allowed a career-high eight runs (seven earned) in 3 1/3 innings, the third-shortest stint of his mostly illustrious Giants tenure, as San Francisco began a three-game series against the formidable Washington Nationals with a 9-3 loss.

The Giants are 4-13 in Lincecum's starts, contrasting sharply with their 45-36 record at the season's halfway point. Yet manager Bruce Bochy maintained confidence in the two-time Cy Young Award winner, calling this defeat a "little hiccup." ...

But after Lincecum blanked Washington in the first inning to extend his scoreless-innings streak to 13, he faded rapidly. He and Bochy partly attributed his lapses to the heat, which was recorded at 94 degrees at game time, as well as the considerable humidity. ...

His pitch count reached 87 in his truncated outing, largely because Washington scored four of its five runs in the second and third innings with two outs. ...

Lincecum's tendency to surrender clumps of runs resurfaced with Washington's three-run uprisings in the third and fourth innings. He has endured six three-run innings, four four-run innings and a five-run inning this season. Moreover, the nine hits Lincecum allowed matched a season high and were one short of his career worst. ...

Lincecum's ERA [swelled] to 6.08, the second-highest mark among NL qualifiers for that statistical title.


http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2012_07_03_sfnmlb_wasmlb_1&mode=wrap&partnerId=LR_wrap#gid=2012_07_03_sfnmlb_wasmlb_1&mode=recap&c_id=sf

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