Is Tim Lincecum injured? Mechanically effed up? Merely slumping? Lost at sea? All of those things and more have been thrown around in an effort to explain his recent woes, but Andrew Baggarly mentions another possibility:
Does Lincecum miss throwing to Bengie Molina?
two-time Cy Young Award winner was 8-3 with a 3.12 ERA in 16 starts
with Molina before the Giants traded the veteran catcher to the Texas
Rangers on July 1. Lincecum is 1-1 with a 3.32 ERA in three pairings
with backup Eli Whiteside. In his past seven starts with rookie Buster
Posey, Lincecum is 2-3 with a 4.85 ERA.
As you’d expect, Lincecum is diplomatic, saying that Molina is great to pitch to but so is Buster Posey and that he’s had bad games and good games with each of them.
I’m not aware of any valid study of pitcher effectiveness with one catcher vs. another (“catcher ERA” is so flawed a stat that it’s not even worth honoring with a mention. Oh, crap, I mentioned it), but it’s certainly the case that pitchers are creatures of habit and some of them really like pitching to certain guys. Indeed, this dynamic paid Paul Bako, Charlie O’Brien and Eddie Perez’s mortgages for years.
Maybe that’s it with Lincecum. Maybe it’s not. All I know is that if the Giants don’t figure out what his problem is soon, they’re going to have an extra month off this fall to consider it all.
Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?
Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.
Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.
Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.
Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.
Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.