Tim Lincecum went through a brief rough patch earlier this season, which he recovered from to go 5-2 with a 2.67 ERA and 53/19 K/BB ratio over an eight-start span.
That stretch ended with a complete-game shutout of the Mets on July 15, but since then Lincecum is 1-3 with a 6.15 ERA in six starts.
Yesterday he lost his third straight start, failing to make it out of the fourth inning and needing 93 pitches to record just 11 outs against the Padres.
And afterward the reigning back-to-back Cy Young winner seemed at a loss to explain his struggles:
I’ve become a big thinker. That’s just the way I am. Brain never stops working. You start focusing on the wrong things, or the negatives and they start to manifest and build up on each other. I can’t keep searching. I’ve just gotta go out and pitch. … You get frustrated when things don’t go your way. You just gotta come to the field every day working with a purpose until it comes back and that’s what I’m trying to get to.
Much has been made of Lincecum’s decreased fastball velocity, as he’s gone from averaging 94.1 miles per hour with the pitch in 2008 to 92.4 mph last season and 91.3 mph this year. However, he seems to think locating the fastball has been a bigger problem than anything related to velocity:
I want to throw strikes, quality strikes, where I want to throw them. The fastball is kind of all over the place right now. But just hitting that down and away fastball. That’s what I’ve got to get back. I just gotta simplify and do what I’ve got to do.
No doubt true, although it’s also a lot easier to get away with not locating a pitch well when it’s 95 mph instead of 90 mph.
Lincecum has already allowed a career-high 13 homers and during his current six-start slump he’s served up five long balls while opponents hit .321, but the good news is that he’s still missing plenty of bats with 33 strikeouts in 33.2 innings.
The Miami Herald reports that the Marlins and Martin Prado have agreed to a three-year, $40 million contracy extension.
Prado has been highly effective for Miami, hitting .297/.350/.405 over two seasons The Marlins were eager to keep him and many teams were no doubt interested in trying to sign him this winter as he stood pretty darn tall on a pretty weak free agent market. He may very well have done better than the $40 million he’s getting, but a qualifying offer could’ve made the free agency process a bit more drawn out one than he would’ve preferred. And, of course, he seems very happy in Miami, as evidenced by his increasing role as a team leader with the Marlins.
For his career Prado has hit .293/.342/.423 over 11 seasons. He’ll now be locked up through his age-35 campaign.
The Cardinals got shellacked 15-2 by the Reds, one of baseball’s worst teams, last night. In so doing they fell a half game behind the Giants for the second Wild Card.
Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch wrote about last night’s game. What struck him was the reaction from the crowd at Busch Stadium:
And the fans, in a rare moment of pique, let the Cardinals hear about it, first booing and then erupting in a Bronx cheer when the final out of a seven-run fourth was recorded. They booed a little more later on and then many of them beat the traffic, with some of them at least leaving with a Grateful Dead T-shirt, a special theme night promotion . . . The paid crowd to witness the carnage was 34,942, snapping a string of 240 straight crowds here of over 40,000, dating to Sept. 24, 2013. Matheny said he noticed the reaction of the crowd and appeared to find little fault with it.
It’s been such a weird season for the Cardinals. Maybe the weirdest part of all has been how terrible they’ve been at home, with a record of 33-42. They have six more games at home, and they no longer control their own playoff destiny.
Is this booing and leaving a one-time thing, or will we see a lot more of it between now and Sunday?