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Tim Lincecum throws, gets hit hard

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Jamie Squire

You knew this was coming. You vowed not to fall for it. Now look at you. You're weak.

I am too. Because when I read this ...

... my little heart went pitter-patter. What if there were a magic wand that could make Lincecum the Cy Young winner of seasons past? What if he's even better? What if, what if, what if? And the numbers "92-93" were like the combination to the gym locker of my heart.

Then Lincecum got shelled.

But, again, the results aren't really what matters, here. Just ask Lincecum himself, via Henry Schulman:

"Mechanically, I felt really good. The timing of my arm was good. I missed a couple of pitches up high, but it’s kind of because I wanted to. Besides that it wasn’t anything too far off from where I wanted to throw it. I know, talking earlier, my front leg was my big issue. I was falling off of it. I felt today once again it was there. I didn’t feel I was getting out of whack. I was still holding my mechanics.

Apparently the velocity was a touch more erratic after the first inning. But here we are again, talking about velocity as if it's the most important Lincecum-related item of the day. Let's take a look at Lincecum's velocity in his five worst starts last year (by game score):

7/3 (3.1 IP, 8 ER)
Started: 92-93
Final inning: 89-90

9/25 (4 IP, 7 ER)
Started: 91-92
Final inning: 87-88

4/11 (2.1 IP, 6 ER)
Started: 91-93
Final inning: 89-90

7/8 (3.1 IP, 6 ER)
Started: 90-92
Final inning: 88-90

6/10 (5.2 IP, 5 ER)
Started: 90-93
Final inning: 87-90

Look at all those 93s! Notice how they meant nothing. Or, rather, how they didn't directly correlate with success. Lincecum started a lot of games throwing hard last year, and while I get that it's normal for velocity to decrease somewhat as a starter gets deeper into the game, it's not like Lincecum was at 100 pitches in the seventh inning of those starts. He was often pulled after 70 pitches or so, and his fastball was three or four feet shorter than it was just a couple innings prior.

The evidence suggests, what, fatigue that led to mechanical wonkiness? The other way around? Dunno. But even considering the vast meaninglessness of post-game quotes, I'll still give Lincecum the benefit of the doubt and believe he was genuinely encouraged. A discouraging outing would contain phrases like "wasn't hitting my spots" without a lot of specifics. With these quotes, you have Lincecum referencing a specific problem with his mechanics, and saying that the specific problem didn't surface in the spring outing.

Which means ...

... see, the thing about this outing is ...

...

oh god it's still february

...

The good news is that when April rolls around, suddenly we'll be out of "spring doesn't mean anything" territory and into "teeny-tiny sample size" territory, which is just super. As for now, though, Tim Lincecum was throwing hard in spring. He was throwing hard last summer, too. But if he says his mechanics are feeling good ... ok, we'll put this outing under the positive ledger. For now.