Koby Schellenger wrote:rmande09, I think you are vastly overrating Lincecum by extrapolating low innings to high innings. There are plenty of pitchers who can pitch 120 innings and then, come August, they run out of gas. Averaging 110 innings per year in college is hardly evidence that he will be able to log 180-220 innings in a season. You should look at his delivery for further evidence that he will have injury concerns. His odd delivery puts extra strain on the elbow and that shows throughout games by a prevalent decline in velocity.
I don't know where you're finding your scouting reports, but I highly disagree with whoever claims his curveball is an 80. The assessment of Lincecum is more divided than just about any pitcher I can remember, but 80 is way too high.
I am certainly not trying to say that he isn't talented or won't be good but I am questioning his future role. For the time being though, he has good stuff but it is not nearly as good as the top guys because Lincecum still struggles with control issues.
OK. Few problems here.
First: His odd mechanics are just that: odd. He has a funky delivery, but he stays on top of the ball and does not lead with his elbow. Does it look different? Yes. Does it put more strain on the shoulder and elbow? Yes, but the difference in the amount of strain between throwing from a normal arm slot and Tim's is minimal. Everyone makes a huge deal out of it because it does not look "normal," which I find to be fairly ridiculous. Though, again, I make this point: The kid has done everything possible to prove he is not an injury risk - why does everyone insist that he will get hurt?
Second: Have you seen him pitch? I was just curious, because I was fortunate enough to see him pitch twice this past season, once at Oregon State and once against Washington State. He struck out at least 10 against Oregon State and was filthy, but I remember he had control problems. His last pitch that game, which I distinctly remember, was a 99 MPH fastball that he blew by a kid for the K. He was even better against Washington State, throwing a complete game. He again struck out at least 10; his stuff was phenomenal. In both games, his fastball sat for 94 and up, touching 99. His curveball was the best breaking pitch I have ever seen in person. His change was average. The point of this story is to question your info. Both times I saw Lincecum, he maintained his velocity from pitch 1 through his final pitch. His curveball was, without question, an 80 on the scale. It was just one of those power curves that was beautiful. And, just for good measure, a bit about Lincecum from a reputable website, Baseball Prospectus:
The Good: Best pure stuff of any 2006 draftee. Despite looking like a 13-year-old on the mound, Lincecum's unorthodox mechanics and the fastest arm action you'll ever see allow him to unleash 92-96 mph fastballs while touching 98-99 and maintaining that velocity throughout the game. Curveball is an even better offering, grading out by many scouts as a pure 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale. Slider and changeup are there and usable. Despite size and delivery, arm was remarkably resilient in college, as he often closed 1-2 days after racking up a high pitch count without ever having problems with arm soreness.
Third: I found it interesting that you did not find 112.1 innings at 20, 104.1 at 21, and 157 innings as a 22 year old quite a workload for a pitcher. To me, I would say that was about average, maybe even above average, for a pitcher in the Minor Leagues, ignoring the fact that he did it at college rather than in the Minors, because, lets face it, throwing a pitch is the same regardless of where you are. So I checked out the reigning AL ROTY, Justin Verlander, because he pitched in college and came out his junior year as well, and was on the fast track to the Bigs. Verlander through 116.1 innings as a 20 (four more than Lincecum), 105.2 as a 21 (1 more), and 130 innings as a 22 (27 innings less than Lincecum). Jeremy Sowers, another college guy taken in 2004, pitched 115 as a 20, 122.2 as a 21, and 158 as a 22. Could this prove to be irrelevant? Of course. But it does go to show that Lincecum's workload the past few years is very similar to what other college pitchers coming into the Bigs throw. It will obviously take a bit for his body to mature and his stamina and endurance to build up to throw 200+ innings a season, but using his delivery and size is not fair because he has shown zero reason to believe he will fail. What really gets me is that one would expect a guy who was CLEARLY throwing the most innings in a single season in his career to have trouble as he was winding down, yet that was certainly not the case. Though he was pitching against A-ball competition, his stuff was still great - I remember reading about his final few starts at San Jose, and each report had him sitting from 94-96, topping out at 99, and his curveball being downright filthy. Wouldn't you expect some regression at this point in time? Lincecum certainly wasn't showing it...
I do agree with you that if there is one thing that Lincecum has trouble with, it is control. However, he is still young, and you have to give him credit - it improved each year in college, and it improved at A+ from what it was in his junior year (though a small sample size). Most power pitchers have command issues and tend to iron it out, and Lincecum's control isn't TERRIBLE, so there's no reason to believe he won't make strides in that department.