It took a whopping 148 pitches, but Tim Lincecum recorded his first career no-hitter Saturday in the Giants’ 9-0 victory over the Padres.
It was the most pitches thrown in a game since Edwin Jackson got to 149 in his no-hitter for the Diamondbacks on June 25, 2010 and the second most since 2005. Lincecum’s previous career high was 138 pitches in a four-hit shutout, also against the Padres, back on Sept. 13, 2008.
Lincecum struck out 13, matching the second highest total of his career. His previous high was 15 in a complete game against the Pirates in 2009. It was his sixth career shutout.
With the Giants struggling of late — at least until they ran into the Padres — Lincecum’s name has been bandied about as a trade possibility of late. One wonders just how the huge pitch count will play into that. After Jackson threw his 149 pitches in 2010, he went five straight outings without turning in a quality start. Lincecum’s win tonight was his first in his last seven starts, though he did pitched better in June than he did the first two months of the season. The Giants also have the ability to give him plenty of rest after this one, what with the All-Star break set to begin.
But let’s not the pitch count overshadow the performance. Lincecum certainly wasn’t worried; he threw a 3-2 curve to walk Everth Cabrera on his 125th pitch of the night in the eighth. Alexi Amarista then came the closest of any Padre to getting a hit tonight; lining out to a sliding Hunter Pence in right field. It wasn’t only Lincecum’s first shutout in a long time, but it was his first complete game since May 21, 2011, when he pitched a three-hitter against the A’s. It had been almost exactly a year — since July 14, 2012 — that he had lasted more than seven innings in a start.
Lincecum is now 5-9 with a 4.26 ERA for the season. He’s tied for sixth in the NL with 125 strikeouts.
Great moments in scouting. MLB.com’s Richard Justice spoke to an unnamed scout about the Astros, currently holding the American League’s best record at 76-47. The scout said that the Astros strike out too much and it will catch up with them. Justice pointed out that the Astros have the lowest strikeout total in baseball. The scout responded, “I don’t believe that.”
Justice, of course, is correct. The average major league team has struck out 1,006 times entering Sunday’s action. The Astros have by far the lowest total at 827, followed by the Indians at 881 and the Pirates at 882.
This scout doesn’t represent all scouts, but this is one of the major problems that advocates of statistics were trying to highlight before Sabermetrics became popular a decade ago. It’s a pattern. Person believes thing. Person either cherry-picks evidence to defend belief or is shown evidence that belief is not factually true and ignores it. Person refuses to change belief, using one of many excuses.
The other problem this highlights is the fallacy of “the eye test,” which is shorthand for treating a scout’s observations as sacrosanct due to his or her experience and knowledge of the game. In this case, the scout ignored easily accessed information, went with his gut, and turned out to be completely wrong. Furthermore, if “the eye test” were legit, the scout would’ve known that, for example, Yulieski Gurriel and Jose Altuve hardly ever strike out (11.1 and 12.4 percent strikeout rates, respectively). In fact, no one on the Astros’ roster (min. 230 PA) has a strikeout rate above 21 percent; the league average is 21.5 percent.
This isn’t to impugn the practice of scouting as a whole. There are a lot of things scouts can tell you about a player that data cannot and that has value. But for easily-researched claims like “the Astros strike out too much,” there’s no reason to trust a scout over the stats.
The Mets acquired right-handed reliever Jacob Rhame from the Dodgers, the team announced on Sunday. Rhame is the player to be named later in the trade that sent outfielder Curtis Granderson to Los Angeles on Friday night. He’s expected to report to the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate.
Rhame, 24, pitched through his second Triple-A campaign with the Oklahoma City Dodgers in 2017, collecting two saves in 41 appearances and logging a 4.31 ERA, 1.9 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 48 innings. While his ERA saw a sharp spike from its modest 3.29 mark in 2016 (perhaps thanks in part to a midseason DL stint due to an undisclosed injury), he’s controlling the ball better than he has in several years and has drawn some attention with a fastball that occasionally touches 98 MPH on the radar gun.
The Mets’ bullpen hasn’t been at its finest over the last few weeks, ranking 16th among its major league competitors with a collective 4.50 ERA and 2.4 fWAR, but likely isn’t looking to add an extreme fly ball pitcher to its staff just yet. Until he gets his big league break, Rhame will beef up Triple-A Vegas’ relief corps alongside fellow right-handers Yaisel Sierra, Joe Broussard and Josh Ravin.