Tim Lincecum wasn’t happy with his first showing on the mound of Spring Training, and he probably won’t be happy with this one either.
In his second start for the San Francisco Giants, the former ace struggled with his delivery against the Kansas City Royals. Luckily, it’s only Spring Training, which means he has plenty of time to fix the issues with his mechanics, but for now the Giants have to be a little concerned.
A big reason why San Francisco failed to make the postseason last year has a lot to do with the poor performances from Lincecum almost every time he took the mound. He posted a terrible 10-14 record with an abysmal 4.37 ERA to help guide the Giants to a 76-86 record a season ago, which is far below the expectations for a team that won the World Series in 2012.
At times, Lincecum showed flashes of his former self, but for the majority of the time, he really struggled to keep the ball down in the strike zone and it hurt him in 2013.
Unfortunately, he didn’t show much improvement from a year ago against Kansas City today. The first batter he faced, Norichika Aoki, hit a double to left field off a two-seam fastball that stayed up in the zone. Then later in the first inning, he gave up a hit to Alex Gordon, who hit a hard single up the middle on another high pitch.
If not for a bad decision on Aoki’s part to try and steal third base while Gordon was at the plate, Lincecum would have given up a run in the first inning. Instead, he got lucky to get out of the jam after forcing Billy Butler to fly out.
The rest of the way wasn’t smooth sailing for the former two-time NL Cy Young winner either. In the second inning, he hit a batter with a pitch and continued to have a hard time keeping the ball down in the zone. In fact, two of the three outs he recorded were fly balls, which is an alarming sign for a guy trying to fix his mechanics.
However, the most worrisome part about Lincecum’s outing today was the lack of strikeouts. For a guy who’s notoriously known for striking out opposing batters, he failed to record even one.
As Spring Training progresses, I’m sure both the Giants and Lincecum want to see a little more improvement going forward. He may have pitched three scoreless innings to keep his ERA at zero for the spring, but he has to get better at keeping the ball down when the regular season comes around or else he could be in store for another bad year in 2014.