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.