Looking at Tim Lincecum's three starts in September, one would think he is back to Cy Young form. After a horrible 0-5 August record, Lincecum has responded by winning each of his three starts in September. His ERA in August was an abysmal 7.82, compared to 2.09 in September.
So he's back on track right?
Well, hold it right there. Sure his stats are back to ace-like form, but how do we know he has really changed?
It's all in the mechanics. Tim Lincecum relies on his hips for power. The reason he is able to launch a fastball in the low- to mid-90s out of such a small frame is due to the mechanics of his extra long stride and the way his hips open up after release.
He stays balanced throughout his whole motion, which is hard to believe because of how violent of an action it is.
So even if stats don't lie, there has to be a way where one can find out if Tim Lincecum is truly back in business and not just getting lucky.
Well, as you all know, Lincecum's velocity has been dropped slightly this year, even though he has shown signs of getting it back up at different points. Since he gets all of his power from his hips, he probably concluded that maybe he wasn't using them enough. This is an assumption and an attempt to explain the difference in his mechanics I will explain shortly.
Lincecum might not have even known specifically what he was doing wrong with his mechanics, but he did know he was not getting the results he is so used to getting.
So what was wrong with him?
He had been overturning before he released the ball. His hips opened up too soon and he did not step straight towards home plate. This caused him to pull the ball slightly and miss location very often. He tried changing numerous aspects of his delivery during his slump, including lifting his hands over his head. This only led to a dragging motion in his arm and although it led to successfully results in the short run, it was not good for his mechanics.
Also, fatigue may have been a factor, but it hasn't looked like it in his past three starts. This leads me to believe it was mostly his mechanics and lack of confidence that led to such an awful August.
Lincecum's problems usually occurred when he tried to muscle the ball to the plate. This led to an unreal amount of walks that have not really been part of Tim's game.
How do we know for sure he fixed his problems? Watch the difference in his delivery from the time he faced the Diamondbacks in San Francisco and gave up four runs wearing his high socks, compared to his most recent start against the D-backs 10 days ago.
In his first start, it is noticeable that he is opening up and trying to sling the ball to the plate. In his second start, you can see that he is staying closed longer, and stepping more towards the plate, allowing him to drive the ball, keeping his walk rate down, and his velocity around 93.
Yes folks, Tim Lincecum has regained his form. There is no doubting it, and all signs point to yes. So unless he starts leaving balls over the plate or begins opening up early again, he should be able to lead the San Francisco Giants and their pitching staff to the playoffs.
And NO ONE wants to face the Giants in a short series because of their rotation. It is now enjoyable to watch Lincecum pitch, and when his turn in the rotation comes around there is a good chance he will deliver a W—just like old times.