Monday, August 30, 2010

Where's Big Time Timmy Jim?!

Tim Lincecum

W-L = 18-5
2.62 ERA
2008 All Star
NL Cy Young Winner

W-L = 15-7
2.48 ERA
2009 All Star
NL Cy Young Winner

W-L = 11-9
3.80 ERA
2010 All Star
Cy Young? (Yea right...)

I along with the rest of hopeful Giants fans are sitting waiting on something to happen to Timmy so that he looks like he did in his previous seasons and begins to dominate hitters again. So far there have been no signs of him coming out of his slump.

Timmy has lost 5 straight decisions including losing 6-0 against the hapless Diamondbacks on Friday.

At this point I am banging my head against the nearest blunt object and cursing the day I became a Giants fan...

The only thing I took from Friday's game was that Timmy lasted 6 innings, as opposed to 3 or 4. Altogether, after a weekend, watching the Giants lose 2 of 3 to a team that barely deserves to be in the majors this year, I'm left thinking one thing:

Go Niners!!

So I've been asked recently about my take on why Timmy's been struggling so much and there's a lot of different theories so I decided I'd put in my two cents in what I'll be calling...

Laws' Coaching Corner

For you diehards out there I know you know what Timmy's pitches are: Fastball, Changeup, Slider, Curveball.

Another thing you might've noticed is that Timmy's fastball has steadily been losing its steam since his first season with the Giants. He's gone from hitting 95-97 on the gun to going as low as an 89 mph fastball this season. I've still seen him top out at 93 this year, but those days of firing heat past hitters is behind him.

As with most pitchers, Timmy uses his fastball to set up all his other pitches. For example: if a hitter knows that Timmy has a 95 mph fastball with movement then he'll look to hit that most of the time and then the Freak can fire an 85 mph changeup to get the hitter off balance and take a swing through it.

The key here, as simple as it sounds, is control. When Timmy does reach back and try to hit 94-95 on his fastball, he no longer can control where its going as well, and right now is slowing it down to make sure that his fastball stays in the strike zone. The result is either that the pitch will go wildly and Tim quickly finds himself in a 1-0 or 2-0 count, or that he serves up a fat 90 mph fastball that is easy prey to most major league hitters.

But hitters have been hitting that changeup of his just as easily. The reason for this is that the difference now between his 90 mph fastball and a 85 mph changeup isn't a lot, and all hitters in the majors already know to look out for that changeup and some will even sit on it and hit the slower changeup as opposed to the fastball.

Also because the fastball and changeup aren't really there for Timmy, he doesn't feel comfortable throwing as many sliders or curveballs, especially when he's constantly behind in the count.

Imagine this situation that has occurred so many times for Timmy this season:

1st Pitch: Fastball outside (92 mph) - 1-0
2nd Pitch: Changeup low (84 mph) - 2-0 OR Hit
3rd Pitch: Fastball strike (90 mph) - 2-1 OR Hit
4th Pitch: Changeup low (84 mph) - 3-1 OR Hit
5th Pitch: Fastball foul (89 mph) - 3-2 OR Hit
6th Pitch: Changeup (85 mph) - Swinging Strikeout/Walk/Hit

1. No pitches besides Fastball and Changeup
2. 4 straight hitter's counts
3. Fastball is trading speed for control
4. No movement on fastball = less groundballs/fly balls

To fix this problem Timmy needs to harness some control over his pitches. He needs to throw the fastball for strikes on the corners and be able to keep hitters off balance by mixing in more pitches like the curveball and slider. If he can hit a corner fastball on his first pitch and go to an 0-1 count the whole at-bat has changed and he is more likely to throw his other off speed pitches.

I'll outline what he needs in this weeks:

Laws of the Day

Key #1 - Control - get that fastball in check
Key #2 - Get Strike One - an 0-1 count opens up the arsenal and allows Timmy to pitch any offspeed pitch
Key #3 - Use the Curve and Slider - other off speed pitches will keep hitters off balance
Key #4 - WIN - get the Giants on track so we can go to the playoffs finally!

This Week's Pitching Mechanics Consultant: Jon Hau aka Chewie


  1. I'm not gonna give up on the Giants yet... but the month of August has been pretty depressing. We've had to endure some tough outings by Timmy, Zito, Bumgardner and Sanchez. The only one who's been sort of consistent is CAIN (can always leave it to Matty to settle things down).

    Our bullpen has been soooooo disappointing. I just face palm every time they blow up. Honestly, being behind doesn't help much, but to lose the lead...? DO YOUR JOB! Haha.

    As most people know... the key to Timmy's success is his fastball. Pinpoint accuracy followed up by the nasty changeup/offspeed stuff. Perhaps he's done it so much in the past that people are starting to get used to it? But he's not even getting strike 1 so there are other problems at hand.

    Hopefully we'll do well against the NL West this week and the next.

  2. I smell Jon's expertise here as well:) I agree too. My only thing is I'm hoping it's time for Timmy's luck to change. This season lots of players have had slumps, look at Panda. Even Cain had a bad losing streak against the Dodgers, but finally broke it and has become Mr. Dependable ever since. I'm a believer in streaks so I'm betting Timmy is due for a good one...(I hope):)