Numbered list style:
- His strikeout rate is still high. Eight innings, ten strikeouts. I’d be worried if teams were knocking the ball around the park and not swinging through pitches. Last year, Linecum struck out 29% of the batters he faced; this year he’s struck out 22%. It’s a drop, but the sample size is waaaaay too small to worry.
- The fastball velocity is there, even if the location was quite wonky the first start.
- Even though hitters are swinging at a ton of pitches out of the strike zone, they’re making better contact against Lincecum. Maybe that’s a red flag to you, but it’s six pints of fluke to me.
- The fielding behind him has been atrocious. There’s no guarantee that the fielding will get better, mind you, but it seems like every miscue this season has led to runs. There will be at least some margin for error.
- In a sample size of eight-plus innings, freaky things can happen. Jeff Suppan knocking in runs freaky.
- Though people are saying, "We haven’t seen the Lincecum of last year yet," that’s not quite accurate. The Lincecum who started the late-March exhibition game against the A’s was ridiculously dominant.
- Young pitchers are a static, predictable group without a propensity for wildly fluctuating performances. "If a young pitcher is good one year, he’s always good the next." – Bill Jaymes, the well-known Dutch baseball analyst and author of The Bill Jaymes Baseball Abstrakt.
- It seems silly, but I really do take comfort in the way C.C. Sabathia started 2008. You can pull hundreds of examples of slow April starts, but that one is the most memorable right now.
- The two starts at the beginning of the season don’t necessarily mean more than the back-to-back poor outings he had in June of last year. (Though it’s admittedly a stretch to call a 7 IP, 4 ER outing "poor," he allowed two homers and didn’t strike out a lot of hitters in that Tigers game.)
- This is probably the double that Lincecum uses to take his place when he’s fighting crime somewhere. Though not computer-generated, the double should still put a towel on.
More reasons are welcome if you have them, but I’m not ready to freak out over two starts. Nine innings of centerfield defense for Eugenio Velez? Oh, yeah. That’s absolutely conclusive. Run with that. But don’t worry about Lincecum yet.