Appearing on XM/Sirus radio THursday morning, former Atlanta Braves pitcher and likely Hall of Famer John Smoltz was asked about just what is wrong with San Francisco Giants ace Tim Lincecum at the moment. Never one to hold his tongue, Smoltz had some interesting remarks about the Freak, claiming he has lost his edge, and may need to make some adjustments to his inique delivery crafted by Tim and his father Chris Lincecum.
Here is Smoltz's comments in full (via SF Chronicle's Hank Schulman)
"Well, I would say there was something going on last year. I would date it back to last year. Watching him I did not feel ... This guy knows how to pitch, OK? First of all, he's got the curse. And the curse is everybody who knew anything, or thought they knew anything, said he cannot continue at this pace. Now, they developed this - him and his dad - these perfect mechanics and the ability for this five-foot-nothing, you know, 130, 40, 50 pounds, whatever he weighs.
"It's just not possible. Now, that's why he was called ‘The Freak.' But the things that have to go on in baseball is you constantly have to adjust and, mechanically, he's got a lot of moving parts. It's like a helicopter. It can get you to where you want to go and it can be very safe but there's a lot of things that can go wrong that give you a limited success rate of landing it. And I think that's the one thing going on right now. I don't know if it is physical. Could be, very well could be. But I know this: I mean, he knows how to pitch, he'll battle his way through it but I would say last year was not the same Lincecum that we've seen that has won two Cy Youngs and has dominated pitching.
"And I think once you start showing those cracks or once it starts showing a little more human factor, I mean, the edge is gone a little bit when you face a guy like this. He had an edge, much like Tiger. These elite pitchers have an edge when they get on the mound. The other team knows, ‘Shoot, we're in trouble.' And right now you just want to label it as, OK, three rough starts, but I think all eyes are going to be on him to see, for the outside looking in, when does his fastball pop again, his split go down, his curveball, his changeup?
" Those are the things, hitters will tell you, and I used to work on this theory: I never concerned myself with one or two bad games. Three in a row? Word's getting around. I always used to use three as the gauge to say, ‘Ok, I gotta make some adjustments here as a pitcher.' "
I agree that adjustments are what keep you around in the Major Leagues, and Timmy isn't doesn't seem to be built for them. He tried gaining weight last season, tried to limit his slider this season, none of which have helped him. His velocity has been down, and his accuracy has been way down, especially with two strikes (currently owns a .667 BAA in 0-2 counts this year).
Ask Brandon McCarthy. Hell, ask Jamie Moyer. Adjusting to the competition is what will keep you at the top of your game. The bell curve seems to be leveling for most hitters at the same time that Lincecum is struggling, a bad mixture for the Giants indeed. He's had his rough patches before, but there certainly is cause for alarm after three straight Todd Welemeyer-like starts.
The analogy of Tim's delivery and a helicopter is incredibly apt in my opinion, and you can see that 'edge' hasn't been there much of the time on the mound. Maybe he's stuck in his head, maybe it's a physical problem, but regardless he needs to correct it.
Hopefully the Freak can figure it out sooner than later.
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