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.
Astros starter Justin Verlander was voted by the Baseball Writers Association of America as the 2019 American League Cy Young Award winner. Teammate Gerrit Cole finished in a close second place at 159 points. Charlie Morton finished third at 75 points, Shane Bieber fourth at 64, Lance Lynn fifth at 18, Eduardo Rodríguez and Lucas Giolito sixth at eight, and Mike Minor eighth at seven.
Verlander, 36, won the AL Cy Young Award (and AL MVP Award) in 2011 with the Tigers). He and Cole became the first pair of teammates to finish first and second on the ballot for the AL Cy Young Award. Four NL teammates accomplished the feat: Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in 2001 and ’02, Don Newcomb and Sal Maglie in 1956, and Mike Marshall and Andy Messersmith in 1974.
During the regular season, Verlander led all starting pitchers in wins (21), games started (34), innings pitched (223), and WHIP (0.803). He also compiled a 2.58 ERA with a 300/42 K/BB ratio. Along with a 300-strikeout season, Verlander achieved other milestones, including reaching 3,000 strikeouts for his career and 200 career postseason strikeouts (an all-time record).
2019 was not without controversy for Verlander, a future Hall of Famer, as he had a well-publicized disagreement with Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. He tried to have Fenech barred from the clubhouse during media availability despite the collective bargaining agreement ensuring access to BBWAA-credentialed reporters. It was one of many Astros-related scandals in 2019.
Verlander is the first Astro to win the Cy Young Award since Dallas Keuchel in 2015. Roger Clemens (2004) and Mike Scott (1986) also won the award back when the Astros were in the National League.