Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Tim Lincecum and the Attack of the Obese Cuban Junkballer

Getting swept sucks. Getting swept by a Rockies team that the Giants used to own at Mays Field in bygone years is just depressing. The Rocks went to the World Series last year on the strength of the best pitching staff in their franchise's short history, but they've seen that pitching staff fall completely apart this year. Of course, that hasn't stopped them from holding the Giants utterly at bay the past two games. The latest no-name to baffle Giants hitters was Jorge de la Rosa, a guy whose great strikeout rate belies his unsightly career ERA.

Tonight the Giants try to avoid the sweep against Stankeye Most Hated List mainstay Livan Hernandez, whose season so far has been a train wreck of epic proportions. With Minnesota this season, Livo gave up an unreal 199 hits in 139.2 innings to go along with 18 home runs, a 1.63 WHIP, and a 5.48 ERA. He was bad, and to make matters worse, the Twins, a team in contention, for pete's sake, refused for the longest time to promote Francisco Liriano because they didn't want to bump Livan and his 10 wins and veteran presence (or maybe it was for more crooked reasons).

Anyway, Livan was signed by the Rockies a few weeks back, and was plugged right into the starting rotation. Now, examine once again the flaming wreckage that is Livan's pitching line with the Twins, and then remember that the Rockies play in the best hitter's park in the world. This just isn't destined to go well. Livan's line in three starts with Colorado reads like a gruesome story you tell around the campfire to scare kids. Hell, I'm scared, too scared to type that line on this page. Whichever Rockies executive thought it was a good idea to bring Livan into this environment is either on a Costanzian mission to get fired or is a complete sadomasochist.

Anyway, Tim Lincecum goes tonight for the Giants, so it's a must watch, and I'll be planted at my favorite sports bar for the proceedings. Did you know that Lincecum has a home ERA (3.07) considerably higher than on the road (1.98)? I mean, that's not saying much, because a 3.07 ERA is shiny anywhere, but you'd think it'd be the other way around. Most pitchers are better at home than on the road, unless they pitch in some huge bandbox like Coors or Chase Field.

The reason behind the home/road shenanigans is that Lincecum has given up seven homers in 82 innings at Mays Field, as opposed to only two in 95 on the road (both at Shea Stadium). That's just odd. Mays Field is notoriously stingy on home run balls, and Giant pitchers have traditionally had low home run totals because of it. It's likely a complete fluke. Timmy will probably see a slight uptick in his road home run numbers while Mays Field will squash the home taters more than it has thus far, but really, what am I complaining about? He's given up a measly nine home runs all year, and that's a major reason for his dominance.

Lincecum has now also become the first Giant to strikeout 200 in a season since Jason Schmidt in 2004, and he's only the third Giant since 1975 to reach the mark. That's right. I had no idea until perusing this list at Bay City Ball, but from 1976 to 2002, the Giants never had a pitcher with 200 strikeouts. It's true that for most of the 1980's strikeouts as a whole were down (I think Len Barker led the AL with 187 one year), but still, you'd think the Giants would have one fireballer who could reach the plateau. The closest anybody came besides Schmidt was Shawn Estes in his magical 1997 year (sigh, what could have been...).

Lincecum is sitting right at 200 and, with a month to play, has a legitimate chance of breaking Schmidt's San Francisco-era record of 254, which he set four seasons ago. I'd say he should also easily notch his 15th win, what with Fat Livo going, but with this offense, you just can't make any assumptions.

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