Posts Tagged ‘tim lincecum’

To the Sky and Back

Posted: May 8, 2016 by Sports Time Radio in baseball, fantasy, sports, Sports Time Radio
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Both the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs sit atop their respective divisions, one-fifth of the way through the 2016 season, the Cubs’ hot start approaching historic proportions. Their 23-6 record to begin the season, is the best since the 1977 Los Angeles Dodgers started off also winning 23 of their first 29 games.
One successful component both of these teams have in common, is a pitching staff that knows its way around the batting cage. Giants pitchers lead all of MLB with eleven RBIs, while the Cubs are right behind with ten. Former Cub Jeff Samardzija leads his staff with five; Jake Arietta and Jason Hammel have three apiece.
Did you see Jeff Samardzija break the bat over his leg, in a game against the Cincinnati Reds last week? It’s not the first time I have witnessed this in an MLB game, but it is the first time I have ever seen a pitcher do it. What it says about Samardzija is threefold: He is a fierce competitor, he will display his emotion in much the same fashion as Jake Peavy and he is one strong individual.

Can you imagine how much that would hurt if the bat did not break?

Speaking of hurt, the Cubs and Giants were among at least twenty teams scouting Tim Lincecum, who spent the off-season rehabbing from a degenerative hip issue. He had arthroscopic surgery last fall and showcased his pitching repertoire Friday in Scottsdale.

Lincecum, who reportedly hit 91 on the radar gun, was 7-4 for San Francisco last season, with a 4.13 ERA and a WHIP of 1.48. He has made it clear that he wants to start, so of course, the Dodgers were also at the showcase. 

From Giants fans’ perspective, could anything possibly be worse than seeing a sneering Timmy, throwing scuds at Giants players, while they flailed helplessly? I think not. It would make Juan Uribe’s defection to LA after the 2010 season pale in comparison, and that one was brutal. 

Interestingly, the Cubs first selected Lincecum in the 48th round of the 2003 draft, but he went on to attend the University of Washington and was subsequently selected in the tenth round by the Giants in 2006. 

Timmy’s credentials include back-to-back Cy Young Awards (2008-09), and he was crucial in two of the three Giants World Championships. With both the Cubs and Giants leading their respective divisions, acquiring Lincecum would be as much about preventing him from going to a rival, as it would be about improving the team.

Though earlier when Lincecum expressed the desire to start, Bochy made it clear that he wanted to give both Jake Peavy and Matt Cain as much time as they needed, to pitch their way back into form. Now, with Peavy’s ERA at nine, right where it was all through spring training, and Cain’s at 7.86, Bochy has to be reevaluating his thought process.
One thing in the Giants’ favor is that when asked where he would most like to end up, Lincecum’s immediate choice was San Francisco. Let’s face it, like Pablo Sandoval, Timmy achieved super hero status regardless of how he performed.

San Francisco’s embracing of Timmy as a Bay Area icon, included a spirited campaign following the 2009 season to “Let Timmy Smoke,” following Lincecum’s citation for indulging in cannabis. It was an indication, prior to any of the three title runs, that Giants fans were willing to follow their diminutive pitcher to the sky and back.

After signing a two-year contract for $35 million prior to the 2014 season, Lincecum failed to live up to heightened expectations, but all would be summarily forgotten, were Timmy to don the Orange and Black again.

All fans have to do is think back to that dominating 1-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves in the 2010 NLDS, when Lincecum struck out fourteen batters and helped lead San Francisco to a 3-1 series win over the Braves. 
Or if that doesn’t work, then ponder Timmy’s role as a key reliever in the 2012 World Series.

As a starter or as a reliever, Lincecum was able to disregard the bright lights and distractions that post-season play features, and that is a characteristic that is attractive to all contending teams.
Considering both the Cubs and Giants are contenders, this battle to sign Lincecum may just be the most important one of 2016.
Mark O’Neill

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Hey there, Chicago

While your own Cubs continue to demonstrate why they are the number-one ranked team in Major League Baseball, the San Francisco Giants have struggled mightily, losing five straight before finally managing to break out against Barry Bonds and the Miami Marlins, 8-1 Friday night, on Orange Friday, at AT&T Park.

For those of us keeping the spotlight focused on on Jeff Samardzija, who made his first start Friday night in his own home park, it was a gratifying performance. He went seven-and-two-thirds innings against the fish, limiting them to a single run, and lowering his ERA to 3.00 and his WHIP to 1.26.
After three road games to begin his stint with San Francisco, Samardzija took advantage of the friendly confines of AT&T, not to mention the clutch defense backing him up. The Shark’s strong early season prowess is taking the pressure off of Madison Bumgarner, especially in light of the team’s sluggish start to the year.
Speaking of strong starts, big ups to Jake Arieta for hurling his second no-hitter over his last eleven starts, proving once again that he is the reigning king of all National League starting pitchers. It was not that long ago (June 26, 2014) that Tim Lincecum tossed his second no-hitter, both against the San Diego Padres, and there is no getting around the surge of electricity one of these gems sends through the organization.
Astonishingly, this was Arieta’s 24th straight regular season quality start, going back to last June 21st. Having surrendered a total of only seventeen runs over those 178 innings, has helped him forge a 20-1 mark during this stretch.
The presence of such a master within the clubhouse, is a key component to any serious playoff contender. The staff must have a guy whose stuff is good enough on any given day, to completely stifle an opponent and pick up a sagging rotation.
Jake Arieta is that guy for the Cubs, just as Madison Bumgarner is that go-to guy for the Giants. Prior to Arieta’s meteoric rise to the top, Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers, called the shots from the top. On paper every team has a top dog.
How much the team relies on that staff leader, becomes amplified when the stress of playoff ball creates a pressure cooker so volatile that the ace cannot hold up under all that hype. Should he stagger in that capacity, so would his team.
You can probably guess where I am going to with this line of reasoning. If you glance quickly at Bumgarner’s stats right now, (1-2, 3.91 ERA, 1.39 WHIP), you would see numbers that belie his elevated status on the team.
In fact you would see that MadBum’s career statistics do not come close to say, Kershaw’s numbers during the regular season, but then again, Kershaw’s regular season numbers shine compared to his postseason efforts.
Jake Arieta also experienced technical difficulties in this area last October.
For him to have had back-to-back starts in the playoffs, in which he gave up four runs, shows that even the best of them are challenged under the microscope of the playoffs. Nothing dictates he will ever have a similar problem again, but the uncertainty must linger in the back of the collective Cubs consciousness.
The Giants have no such impediments in their thinking process. They know what to expect from Bumgarner when October arrives, so they do not worry when things do not go as well during the grind of the regular season.
When it comes right down to it, San Francisco has suffered from inconsistency during the regular season in all three of their recent world series runs. They had four extended losing stretches in 2010, five in 2012 and seven in 2014.
Seven times during this most recent title run, the Giants lost four or more consecutive games, or experienced periods in which they won only once during prolonged stretches, baffling their fans and resurrecting the term “torture” for Giants followers.
But not surprisingly, these nosedives seem to better prepare the Giants for adversity, which makes sense when you think about it. If a team never struggles, it does not learn how to address hard times when they arrive.
Timing is everything.
For now the Cubs are on top of their division, and the Giants are near the bottom. Until that changes, my words are only so much hot air being blown about, like the mighty wind whipped up, when LA’s Yasiel Puig takes one of his mighty cuts, and whiffs.
That’s it for my at-bat today. See you next week.
@bellspringsmark