Tim Lincecum shuts down Dodgers, lowers ERA to 2.08

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After three straight rough seasons in which he went 32-38 with a 4.76 ERA, two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum is shutting lineups down again.

Wednesday night Lincecum threw seven scoreless, three-hit innings against the Dodgers, allowing zero runs for the third time in his last four starts and lowering his ERA on the season to 2.08.

Lincecum’s average fastball is down to 87 miles per hour and his secondary numbers are nowhere near as great as they used to be, including just 36 strikeouts in 48 innings and the second-worst walk rate of his career at 4.0 per nine frames.

So yes, his current success is due at least somewhat (and perhaps a lot) to smoke and mirrors, but whatever the case it’s fun to see (unless you’re a Dodgers fan) for however long it lasts. Or as the 30-year-old right-hander told Chris Haft of MLB.com:

I relied on stuff back in the day and now I’m trying to pitch my way through games. The evolution of the last few years has been pretty rocky, so I’m taking what I’ve got going right now as a definite plus.

For the first time in his career Lincecum is inducing more than 50 percent ground balls and he’s allowed just one home run in 193 plate appearances. Getting a bunch of grounders and keeping the ball in the ballpark can cancel out a lot of otherwise negative stuff.

Whether or not he can keep that up, it’s good to see The Freak back. Baseball missed him.

Joe Kelly’s suspension reduced to 5 games on appeal

Joe Kelly suspended eight
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LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly had his suspension for throwing pitches near the heads of Houston hitters reduced to five games on appeal.

Kelly was originally penalized eight games by Major League Baseball on July 29, a day after throwing a 96 mph fastball near the head of Houston’s Alex Bregman and two curveballs that brushed back Carlos Correa.

The Dodgers on Wednesday confirmed the reduced penalty.

Kelly went on the 10-day injured list retroactive to last Sunday with right shoulder inflammation. He will serve his suspension when he returns.

After striking out Corea, Kelly curled his lip into a pouting expression and exchanged words with the shortstop.

Benches cleared after Kelly’s actions during the sixth inning of Los Angeles’ 5-2 win at Houston in the teams’ first meeting since it was revealed the Astros stole signs en route to a 2017 World Series title over the Dodgers.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts served his one-game suspension the same day the penalty was handed down. Astros manager Dusty Baker was fined an undisclosed amount.

Kelly denied that he purposely threw at the Astros. He has previously been suspended in his career for throwing at a batter.

The penalties were imposed by former pitcher Chris Young, MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations, who issued his first ruling since taking over the job from Joe Torre.