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Notes on Tim Lincecum’s successful return with the Angels

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I was going to photoshop the Angels uniforms into something less offensive but ran out of time.

Kenny Karst-USA TODAY Sports

Pssst. Do you want to see a weird picture? Here is a weird picture:

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Oakland Athletics Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

That is Tim Lincecum, Los Angeles Angel of Anaheim. I’m not used to it after watching his entire start, and I’m not going to be used to it in 16 years. Also, I’d like to think that he used wood glue to make the string from his glove stand up like that.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Still weird! He finally looks like he won’t get carded, and we don’t even get to enjoy the gentle, weary wisdom.

Anywho, Tim Lincecum is on another team, and he won his first start. I know the Giants have won eight in a row, with Jake Peavy settling down after his unfathomably awful start, so don’t take this as a wistful post filled with regrets. I’m just interested in Lincecum’s return. Judging by the presence of Alex Pavlovic in that picture up there, I’m certainly not alone. There’s never been an ex-Giant that I’ve wanted to succeed as badly. He leads a pantheon of ex-Giants-to-root-for that includes Will Clark and Barry Bonds as a hitting coach, and he’s lapping the field.

How did he look, then?

Like that. Which is to say, even adjusting for the A’s offense, pretty solid. A quick scouting report:

Velocity

Peaked at 90 mph, but he sat at 89 for the early innings. By the sixth inning, he was down to 87, mostly. Jered Weaver wanted to know when the Angels traded for Craig Kimbrel.

Swing-and-miss-stuff

He didn’t get a lot of swings and misses on the fastball, but he never really did.

Seven swing-throughs on the day, which isn’t much different than what he was doing last year.

It’s worth pointing out this first-inning sequence against Danny Valencia with a runner in scoring position, though.

Most of the swing-throughs on the day were on the slider. Valencia wasn’t expecting this one.

Hot take: If Lincecum could hit his target like that every time, he would still be an All-Star. Maybe there’s a chance his muscle memory will catch up to him in his 30s. Wouldn’t bet on it, but it would be fun.

It was a fantastic sequence. Before getting too excited, note that Stephen Vogt was on second because he wasn’t too impressed with the fastball velocity, and that Lincecum left more than a few pitches over the heart of the plate. Still, Lincecum did that to a hitter having an incredible season, and I could watch those GIFs all day.

Depressing stat

According to FanGraphs, Tim Lincecum’s 2016 WAR is now tied with his 2014 WAR.

Conclusion

He’s probably the same pitcher that he’s been over the last four years. If you were looking for a hip-related renaissance, you’ll have to wait and see if there’s more velocity coming, or if his command problems over the last few years were related to his deteriorating hips. Could be the case. Probably isn’t the case.

That written, Lincecum’s in a great spot. He’s throwing for a team that’s slowly sinking deeper and deeper under .500, so there shouldn’t be a ton of pressure on him. He’s going to play in a pitcher’s park with an excellent defense behind him, so his raw numbers shouldn’t take too much of a hit.

The Giants are in first place, and everything is working soundly at the moment. There wasn’t anything about Lincecum’s debut with the Angels that made me think the Giants made a mistake. We checked in with an ex’s Facebook page, everyone seems to be doing well, and we’re all happy for each other. Good pitching, Tim Lincecum. Keep it up.

(The uniform is still freaking me out, though.)