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Is this the Timmy of old or the Timmy of late?
Sigh, Timmy, Timmy, Timmy what are we going to do with you? Tim Lincecum's season has been a well-documented mess as the once dominant right-hander has continued to struggle well past any reasonable expectations. Even more frustrating is how baffling his struggles have been as most slumps are coupled with some sort of health or mechanical abnormality. Lincecum's is just freaky.
Every outing, Lincecum goes out and shows flashes of brilliance, striking out hitters and dominating just like the good ol' days, and then all of the sudden, that big inning hits and everything snowballs out of control until the game is lost. And the worst part is, nobody knows why, it just happens.
All we can say is there's no way this can continue to happen, but we've been saying that since mid-May, so what's changed? Well for starters, the velocity is getting better, which was the original concern when the slump started.
Now Lincecum is consistently throwing 92-93 which is right around where we expect him to be throwing and often times with pretty good location (that seems to suddenly disappear during his blowup innings). The next problem was getting that perfect location on the breaking stuff that Lincecum has featured at his best, those perfectly thrown changes and sliders that dive out of the strike zone as soon as the hitter swings.
Since the second inning of his start in San Diego, Lincecum has shown that he can still get hitters to chase, an ability which vanishes along with his location at the first sign of trouble.
The stuff is all there, now he just needs to bring it all together and have the confidence to throw it when it counts. Look for Timmy to regain his composure in his next two starts against the A's and Dodgers as he looks to face and beat that test which has been killing him all year: the ability to pitch out of jams.