Does Tim Lincecum miss Bengie Molina?

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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?

The
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.

Bryce Harper will participate in the Home Run Derby if he makes the All-Star team

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Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.

Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.

Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.