SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 16: Pitching coach Dave Righetti and Buster Posey #28 talk to Tim Lincecum #55 of the San Francisco Giants about the prank they just pulled on an unsuspecting Brandon Belt at AT&T Park on April 16, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Pardon me for peaking. I started writing this after the first inning because, hey, it's Roy Halladay.
Brandon Belt seems to give away the first two pitches of an at bat. Anecdotally, he watches the first pitch, swings at the second pitch, and then manages to firm up his approach and put together a decent at bat most of the time (even when it winds up in a strikeout). Opposing pitchers seem to be attacking him with a breaking ball on first pitch or otherwise attack his "swinghole" up and in in the zone. The very next pitch, then, is usually a change up or another breaking ball, but one that darts beneath the zone, usually getting a swing over by young Belt. Anyway, this just *appears* to be a consistent pattern with Belt’s plate appearances this season.
His bloop hit to left in the 4th inning was probably the luckiest thing to happen to the kid in months, at least where being a major leaguer is concerned. Of course, in the very next inning, the luck normalized and he was punched out on a very questionable call. Then, he had a great play in the field to show off his range and he ended his night with a three-pitch strikeout. Bad at bat, good at bat, bad at bat, great play in the field... the kid is the ultimate neutron.
Tim Lincecum isn’t "done", but I’m a firm believer that pitchers can just up and suck with little warning or explanation. He had a bad first inning and that was the story of his night. Melky Cabrera had an Angel on his shoulder and a Placido Polanco fly ball that should’ve been an out was blessed into a double. The fielding mishap forced Lincecum to throw more pitches and that is probably the worst thing that could happen to him right now.
The Phillies offense had 16 extra base hits (11 doubles, 5 HRs) in 9 games heading into tonight. They had three doubles off Lincecum. He struck out six and walked only one against 8 hits. The problem is not his stuff (for the most part) or pitch selection, it’s his command. It’s virtually nonexistent. He appears to be throwing an unusually high number of mistakes, balls right in the strike zone, off target, easy to hit.
Compounding this very real issue is the drop in velocity on his fastball. There simply is no margin for error with any of his pitches. The fastball-changeup velocity gap is so miniscule that he just can’t get away with mistakes on either pitch. There doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with his changeup, either. The lack of command and velocity on the other pitches is hurting his best pitch making him just not that great right now. And, he’s been pretty unlucky. The Giants defense has been unacceptable these first ten games. But something has got to give and soon otherwise, this just might be what he is now.
Look, I don’t think there’s any reason to panic here. It’s still early in the season, obviously, but here’s the real reason: there’s nothing to worry about. Either the Giants pitching shows up or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t show up, the Giants have no chance of making the playoffs. There’s no use worrying about a binary outcome. The Giants went "all-in" with their arms months ago. I hope we’ve all acclimated ourselves to this reality. I’ve decided to shutdown anxiety.exe and simply *react* to whatever happens. It’s been nice to see the offense show up in these first ten games (for the most part), but we all know it comes down to the pitching… arms with a lot of innings on them…
Speaking of the new and improved offense…
· Aubrey Huff sure does love sending a baseball up the elevator shaft. And strand baserunners.
· The worst thing Emmanuel Burriss could possibly do is not hustle. A foul ball nearly rolled back into play and he just stood there like the goofy out machine that he is.
· As the great Wendy Thurm noted on Twitter: "Last 4 runs scored by #SFGiants: error on SS, RBI groundout, Sac Fly, RBI groundout".
Finally, the Giants are 4-6 after their first 10 games for the second consecutive season. Curse that second wild card. It’s going to sustain hope for a long, long time.