Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bits and Bites

Tidbits on Tim:
He’s (obviously) looked really really good thus far. Do you know what they (Bengie and Tim) said about the McCann homerun? Bengie and Lincecum said that they were trying to deemphasize the change-up early on in the game. Well, after that Lincecum threw a ton of change-ups and just dominated with that pitch. He’s truly working with 4 swing and miss pitches. His velocity isn’t quite what it once was but mixing all 4 and having that devastating change just makes that not matter (very much). Another thing that drives this point (which I realized recently while looking at some stats) comes from Ubaldo Jimenez. He’s the Rockies righty that throws GAS – like 95 mph average octane for a starting pitcher – which is incredible. He and Verlander are really the only two that do that. Anyway, Ubaldo has less than a strikeout per inning over the last three seasons even with that power fastball. So, it’s not (just) the fastball that is going to accumulate so many K’s, it’s the offspeed the pitcher throws OFF the fastball. Lincecum has 4 pitches he will throw at any time, any count, and any batter. Moreover, he’s fearless. He just doesn’t care. He’ll get hit for a 500 home run on a fastball, and then throw the same pitch the next time the guy comes up. Lincecum will not let a hitter take a single pitch away from him.

What does this mean, and why is it important? I’ll tell you, so stick with me. Hitters know that Lincecum is fearless. When a player like McCann hits a bomb off Timmy on a fastball you’d naturally imagine that the next time up McCann would have in the back of his mind that Timmy won’t throw him another. That would probably be true with your normal, non-Freakish pitcher, but it’s not the case with Timmy. The next time up, McCann (or the hitter) knows that he cannot eliminate that pitch or any other. He knows that Lincecum doesn’t care how hard he hit that pitch last time and so he has to be ready for that same fastball, that change-up, that slider or buckling curve. I’ve watched most of Timmy’s starts since 2007 and I can tell you with confidence that I’ve seen players take Timmy deep and then look like fools in their next at bat. I’ve seen him beat great players with the same pitch they previously hit out, and I’ve seen him make players look foolish on the other 3 pitches. That’s what having 4 above average pitches that you will throw in any count and any situation will do for a pitcher. Tim’s just … stupid (good).

Oh … and he takes 14 pitches to warm up after a 4 hour rain delay spent playing Golden Tee (an arcade golf game … ) and taking a nap. You can’t make that stuff up. We’re lucky we get to see him every fifth day. Parting fact: his fastball thru two games is exactly what it was 2009 – on average – or 92.4 MPH according to FanGraphs. That’s still about 8-10 MPH less than the change and quite obviously plenty effective.

Tidbits on Buster:
Posey played 1B for Fresno Sunday night and hit his first HR. To that point, he’d had something like 22 AB’s and reached 13 times. He was 9 for 18. I think (pray) the Giants realized something on Saturday night when Whiteside was playing and the Braves pitched around Bowker and Uribe when the Giants had an inning going. Having Whiteside hit 8th is like having two pitchers hit back to back. You want to talk about easy outs … it’s like the pitcher has to get 7 guys out and the next two are nearly automatic. He’s a rally killer in every sense of the phrase. At the end of May, Posey will have spent enough time in the minors to push free agency back 1 year because of the time he spent in the big leagues last September (33 days of service time) and they’ll want to keep him below 172+ days of service time which is considered a full season. Bottom line: If he’d made the club, his free agency would have started a year earlier. So, if the Giants are truly just protecting themselves from future cash and years of control on Posey, he’ll be up by one of two dates. It’ll be late May if they feel they can get him the AB’s and need him. Or, it won’t be until early July when they can push him past super-two status. Expect the kid then, late May or early July, and certainly this season.

Parting Bite:
I still think the Giants need a big acquisition to really be the team in the West and make noise in October. If you put some thump and plate discipline into the middle of the Giants lineup, it probably becomes an above average lineup. And, if the Giants could get a very good bat for Madison Bumgarner right now, I’d pull the trigger. There’s no such thing as an untouchable prospect, and his pitching (and fastball) of late certainly have seemed touchable.

1 comment:

  1. When you point out the use of Timmy's four pitches, I think of one name and two words. Greg Maddox. Not the biggest or the hardest throwing, but able to place to ball with effectiveness where the batter is not able to zero in one particular pitch. Tim has shown this ability even more so at the beginning of this early season then he did at the end of his second cy young season. Which is just horrible for the rest of the NL and a blessing for us in the bay. Especially with the hit and miss batting from this line up, while "professional" at bats were much needed in this line up. I think Jeff Kent put it best, "the money lies in the RBI's!" Damn straight it does.
    Look at the last three games, 2-1 loss to L.A on Sunday afternoon, and TWO one run losses to bottom feeder San Diego! What the F! Three runs scored in three games? You have our pitchers going out there pitching gems and get this type of run support. Don't be fooled by the fast start by this offensive this early in the season. That fast start came against mediocre teams who are sinking fast. Buster would be a blessing for this line up and I couldn't agree more about Madison. The time is now with this pitching staff, just like last year.