When daydreaming about the future of the Giants, there's a little saying to remember: Lowry, Lincecum, Sanchez, and Cain, then pray for good health, improved control, a competent fifth starter, and, in the half-innings the Giants offense is due up, rain. It's a nice sentiment, but the reality is that three of the four pitchers named have a whole lot of growing pains left and shouldn't be expected to jump right in and start dominating. It'd be nice to have a veteran anchor. Maybe someone still young, still under contract for a while, but with some experience and history of success. That pitcher should be Lowry.
El Prepare Zurdo starts the discussion, weighing in with the sound theory that hitters are sitting changeup, especially if the fastball isn't located well. That makes a heck of a lot of sense. My issue with Lowry's struggles is that I remember a changeup that hitters couldn't sit on. Last week, Wily Mo Pena was finally able to unwind from a swing he took against a Bugs Bunny pitch from Lowry two years ago. My informal observations on Lowry's major league career, and please let me know if I'm doing too much mythologizing of any particular pitch:
- Who is this kid, and where did he get that changeup? When someone in a Baseball America chat session asked a BA writer for a mea culpa regarding Lowry's low ranking in the Giants prospect list before 2004, BA understandably refused to accept too much blame; Lowry hadn't shown a changeup that strong in the minors, or at least nothing with that sort of consistency. It was the kind of change that hitters could sit on and still wave at. It had unpredictable movement, and was making hitters look stupid the second and third time through the lineup.
- The changeup wasn't the same, but he suddenly started throwing a crazy diving curveball in the second half of the season. It seemed like hyperbole to bring up Barry Zito's name in comparison, but there were a couple of nights where the comparison was unavoidable. The changeup only showed flashes of what it was, but combined with the improved curve Lowry was quite the mower downer.
- None of the above. The change is good, not great, and the only time the curve has unusual break is when it's thrown like an eephus pitch. The control and fastball are just average. The strikeout rate has absolutely plummeted. If he's not hurtin', I'm worried. If he is hurtin', I'm worried.