When a two-time Cy Young award winner struggles, it's easy to dissect every single pitch with a scalpel, looking to find what cancer may still reside underneath. Enter Tim Lincecum and his outstanding performance against the Astros on Saturday. He didn't get the win but he may have gotten something even better. He got some confidence back.
Still, there are those who didn't see much to be excited about with Timmy's outing, one of which is CSN Bay Area's Ray Ratto, who raised more questions after his start than Timmy offered answers.
He struck out 11, a sign that he was about to regain his command, until you realize he threw an awful lot of high strikes past slow bats.
And he did not top 90 miles per hour with any pitch after the third inning, which is not a good sign, but he had better command of his off-speed repertoire, which is a good one.
In short, he won without being the Lincecum of old, which leaves the Giants and their customer base in the same quandary they've been in all year -- asking questions with a multitude of contradictory answers.
He was good, but he wasn't cured. He succeeded and didn't get statistical credit. His lowered his ERA below six, but he didn't cause an outbreak of nostalgia.
Being a pitcher isn't about staying the same, it's about making adjustments and being one step ahead of the hitter. Lincecum used to have that luxury, but is finding out that a slight tweak here and there will make all the difference.
Yes, he wasn't lighting up the radar gun but he did throw a lot of fastballs on Saturday, using it as his setup pitch instead of his slider or changeup. That's making an adjustment.
True, the Astros aren't a great hitting team, but they still are professional baseball players, and Timmy still fanned a season-high 11 of them. His days of embarrassing his competition may be over, but he's far from being finished as a pitcher.
Ratto suggests that you get used to it though, noting that Lincecum's new 'paradigm' may very well be one of worry and questioning over his stuff instead of trust and confidence with him on the mound:
The new Lincecum paradigm may simply be one without style points. Every out should be considered a victory, and every non-out a cause for worry. If your stomach can handle it, fine. If not, white-knuckle your way through that Costco vat of antacids every time he pitches.
Timmy has saved his spot in the rotation, but he'll likely have to have a few more solid starts under his belt before faith is restored completely.
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