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Behind Lincecum's Struggles On Opening Day
Christopher Reina. 9th April, 2009 - 4:38 pm

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Tim Lincecum's Opening Day start against Milwaukee on Tuesday was an unmitigated disappointment from just about every angle. He lasted just three innings, striking out five, walking three while giving up three earned runs in 73 pitches.

Lincecum went at least six innings in 29 of his 33 2008 starts.

His velocity was about the same as always (low-90's) and his change-up was absolutely brilliant and saved him from several walks, but he threw only 51% of his fastballs for strikes. Lincecum routinely was missing up in the strikezone, not finishing his pitches the way we've become accustomed with his release point being lower than in the past.

Using the below data from the invaluable BrooksBaseball.net, let's look at how Lincecum located his pitches on Tuesday.



Below is his strikezone plot from his final start in 2008 on September 28th against the Dodgers. Lincecum struck out 13, walked two, gave up four hits and one earned run in seven innings of work. It ranked as one of his best three or four outings of the season and his command was impeccable.

Unlike Tuesday's start, Lincecum didn't miss high and to his the left of the strike zone in any of his pitches. The vast majority of his balls were waste pitches well below the zone.