If you drafted Tim Lincecum or you’re a fan of the San Francisco Giants, you may be a little worried. Lincecum is currently 0-1 with a 12.91 ERA over 2 starts and 7 2/3 innings. He has a 10/3 K/BB but he has allowed 17 baserunners in his small sample size, inflating his WHIP to 2.22. There are a few things to keep in mind, whether you’re hoping for a rebound or you think that this is the end of the man with the crazy mechanics.
Negativity is our starting point. Lincecum’s average fastball has dropped to just 90.3 so far this season, down from 92.3 last year. He is also throwing his fastball a career low 48.3% of the time, while he is spinning his curve 13.5% of the time this season, up from 6.4% in 2011. His offspeed pitches are accounting for 51.7% of his pitches, while it has been around 42.2% for his career. You have to wonder if he is having some sort of shoulder ailment that isn’t allowing him to rear back and fire, or if he just has a dead arm issue since it is early in the season. Either way, the drop in velocity is a concern.
On a positive note…Lincecum’s current Batting Average for Balls in Play (BABIP) is .444, which means four guys from every trip around the lineup are getting on when they put the ball in play. His career BABIP is .294 and the normal “good luck/bad luck” split is .300. He is going to have luck on his side as that evens out over the rest of the season. Due to his current struggles, he is also not leaving men on base. His Left On Base % is currently 42.3, while his career LOB% is 75.6%.
Another positive for Lincecum is his current strikeout rate. He is still overwhelming SOME hitters, as his 11.74 K/9 shows. He is still missing bats, when the opposition isn’t putting the ball in play, of course. That 11.74 K/9 would rank the highest of his career by 1.23 K/9 if he is able to maintain it. “The Freak” is also impressing with his current groundball rate. Lincecum has a 53.6 GB% at this point, up from his career rate of 47.1%.
So, while it is early and Lincecum, who signed a two-year $40.5 million deal (which runs through the end of 2013) this offseason, has proven to be mortal, his stats show that there could be some bad luck associated with his struggles. Many fans and fantasy owners may be on a ledge about his struggles, but the 5’11”, 163 pounder has proven critics wrong since being selected 10th overall in 2006 out of the University of Washington. Buy low and settle down. If he keeps his stats current and brings down the BABIP, ERA, and WHIP, Lincecum is on pace for a career year.