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.
Padres’ outfielder Alex Dickerson won’t see PETCO Park anytime soon — at least, not as its starting left fielder. The 27-year-old was diagnosed with a bulging disc in his lower back prior to the start of the 2017 season, and hasn’t made any kind of substantial progress in the months since. According to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune, he suffered a setback in his recovery process last week and is set to undergo a season-ending discectomy next Wednesday.
Over 285 plate appearances, Dickerson batted .257/.333/.455 with 10 home runs and a .788 OPS for the Padres in 2016. He missed several days with a right hip contusion last July, but hasn’t experienced any substantial health problems since undergoing surgery in 2014 to repair a torn ligament in his left ankle.
The expected recovery period for lower back surgery is 3-4 months, according to Lin, which puts Dickerson’s estimated return just a few days before the end of the regular season. The Padres aren’t scraping the bottom of the NL West, but their 29-44 record doesn’t bode well for a postseason run this year. Assuming Dickerson rehabs his back in a timely manner, he should be in fine form to enter the competition for left field next spring.
Hanley Ramirez played a pivotal role during the Red Sox’ 9-4 win over the Angels on Friday night, crushing a two-run homer off of Alex Meyer to bring the Sox up to a four-run lead in the fourth inning.
Well, crushed might be the wrong word. The ball cleared the right field fence with a mere 350 feet, landing just beyond Pesky’s Pole to bring Ramirez’s career home run total to an even 250.
According to the ESPN Home Run Tracker, Ramirez’s milestone blast wasn’t the shortest home run of the year — not by a long shot. That distinction currently belongs to Rays’ outfielder Corey Dickerson, who skimmed the left field fence at Rogers Centre with a 326-foot homer back in April.