Lowest ERA for active pitchers in first 100 career starts
|Tim Lincecum (99 starts)||2.92|
"It's as dominant a pitch as any in the game," San Diego third baseman Chase Headley said.
Lincecum's curveball and slider enhance his array of deliveries."I'm becoming more of an all-around pitcher," Lincecum said. "There are days when my fastball's going to be a little better and some days when my fastball's not going to be that great, and I'm going to have to work around that. I'm trying to be prepared for any event or situation I run into. You know how people say, 'I wish I would have known now what I did later?' Well, I'm trying to know now." Still, Lincecum acknowledged that his diminished fastball has nagged him. "I'm not worried about it, but it's in the back of my mind," he said. "I'm aware of the fact that my fastball isn't 95 anymore. I'm not saying I don't feel like it's going to end up to the point where I can't get there, but it just isn't that way right now."
Most strikeouts for active pitchers in first 100 career starts
|Tim Lincecum (99 starts)||752|
Said Giants catcher Bengie Molina, who has teamed with Lincecum during his entire career: "I know he's probably a little worried about his velocity and stuff like that, but he should learn quickly to pitch with what he has that certain day."Observers universally agreed that Lincecum, 5-1 this year and 45-18 lifetime (including a 2008 victory in his lone relief appearance), can thrive without overpowering hitters. Hall of Fame right-hander Jim Palmer, now a Baltimore Orioles broadcaster, identified with Lincecum. Like the Giants ace, Palmer captured consecutive Cy Young Awards in 1975-76. A winner of three Cy Young Awards overall, Palmer also gradually lost velocity, but he nearly garnered a fourth Cy Young in 1982 by finishing 15-5 while throwing his fastball around 89-90 mph. "People think that when you win Cy Young Awards, you have to be perfect," said Palmer, an eight-time 20-game winner. "It's not about the radar gun. At the end of the day, if you lose velocity, it's not like you have to jump overboard. You want to know how the batters are reacting to you, and if you still have three or four pitches, it can be pretty comfortable." MLB Network commentator Mitch Williams, a former All-Star closer, pointed out that Lincecum's diversity of deliveries gives him an edge that eludes many young power pitchers.
Highest winning percentage for active pitchers in first 100 career starts
|Tim Lincecum (99 starts)||0.710||44-18|
"Once you learn how to pitch and you have the kind of stuff that Tim Lincecum has, you become very dangerous," Williams said. "It takes a lot of guys into their mid-30s to figure things out."The mental process has just begun for Lincecum. Winning the constant guessing game against hitters will become more crucial for him if he's to remain elite. Williams described the process as "figuring out the four pitches he does have, when to use them and what hitters to throw them to." "The hitters are going to have tougher and tougher and tougher at-bats against him," Molina warned. "It's not going to stop. A lot of hitters take it as a challenge when they face a type of pitcher like him. They think, 'Hey, man, this is a two-time Cy Young Award winner, this is the Freak, this is the guy who they talk so much about. I want to get a hit off him. I want to do some damage.'" An unyielding attitude, Molina said, will help Lincecum counter his rivals. "Confidence has to tell you what to do," Molina said. "Confidence means that I don't have to throw my changeup to get you out. I don't have to throw you my fastball all the time to get you out. I have to have my confidence to throw any pitch at any time. I think that's what's going to make the difference." Lincecum fully intends to do what's necessary to stay at an All-Star level.
"I think it's my natural competitiveness that makes it that way, a 'find the way or get out of the way' kind of thing," he said.Lincecum's accomplishments demonstrate that locating the right path has been a habit for him. "He doesn't see ahead. He doesn't see behind. The only thing he sees is right now," Molina said. "That's what makes him so good."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.