Erratic Lincecum 'bittersweet' after missing clinch party


Erratic Lincecum 'bittersweet' after missing clinch party


SAN FRANCISCO Tim Lincecum has one start remaining in theregular season one more chance to assemble his rhythm and his confidence likea tax return, with all documents in the proper order.

He has received so many supporting statements from BruceBochy over this checkered season. But the Giants manager could not play off thewreck of a start he observed in a 7-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks Tuesdaynight.

It was obvious from the beginning, from the first hitter,that he was out of sorts, said Bochy, who pulled Lincecum two batters into the fifth inning with the Giants trailing 5-1. Hes been throwing well. This isone hes got to put behind him. He just couldnt find his rhythm out there tonight.

Until this year, Lincecum always found it precisely when heneeded it. Thats why there wasnt a great panic in the spring when hestruggled to locate his fastball or put away hitters. He would put that aside,hit the mound on opening day and pitch another gem, just as he always had.

Except this year, he didnt. Five batters into his season,he trailed 3-0 at Chase Field after home runs by Chris Young and personalnemesis Paul Goldschmidt.

Lincecum didnt find it until he began to put together arespectable run in the second half. Even with that nice streak, which includedfive consecutive road victories for the first time in his career, his seasonERA still stood at 5.15 at the close of business Tuesday ranking him 47thout of 47 NL pitchers with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title.

Now he has one more start next week to figure it out beforethe Giants would hand the ball to him in the postseason. At this stage, a start cannot be considered guaranteed. But if he gets one, it would be hisfirst since Game 5 of the 2010 World Series -- when he became the first pitcherin franchise history to win a championship clincher.

Can he hope to find it again? What will he hope to achievein his final chance to fine-tune?

I just want to attack hitters a lot better, said Lincecum,who wasnt injured or affected by a come-backer that glanced off his glove. Itsbeen a lot of favorable counts for the batters and Ive been walking a lot ofguys lately. So its trying to alleviate that, try to make it easier on myselfby just throwing better strikes. That kind of goes back to believing in whatthe catchers putting down and trusting it and not worrying about what happensother than that one pitch.

Lincecum wasnt the only one out of sync against theDiamondbacks. Catcher Hector Sanchez let one wild pitch go between his legs,allowing a run to score. Sanchez had a passed ball, too.

It seemed both of them were off tonight, Bochy said. Ithappens. Youd like to see these guys get locked in this time of year. Theyllhave to put it behind them.

Said Lincecum: It wasnt always about Hector or the pitcheshe was calling. It was a matter of me not hitting my spots and making it toughon him back there with throwing in the dirt, pitches at the head. It was apretty erratic day. He had to make an adjustment to what I was doing instead ofthe other way around.

Prior to the game, Bochy said whoever catches Lincecum inhis regular-season finale is likely to be his battery mate in the postseason.The smart money is on Sanchez again. Lincecum has hardly thrown to Buster Poseyat all in the second half.

Thats one of many things about Lincecum that fans arefinding curious these days. Another was his conspicuous absence from the teamsNL West clinching celebration Saturday night; Lincecum left the game in theseventh inning, even though the Giants were just a handful of outs away from winning.Bochy said its customary for the next days starting pitcher to leave earlywhen a day game follows a night game; the manager expressed regret that hedidnt tell Lincecum he planned to scratch him and start Yusmeiro Petit if theGiants clinched.

It was kind of bittersweet, Lincecum said. Obviously wewon and all. But uh, obviously not being here to share with the team, that waskind of tough. But hopefully things go right and we can celebrate another wayand thatll be a better celebration.

It will be hard to imagine the Giants staging anothercelebration or three unless Lincecum is on his game.

At least he wont have to pitch to the Diamondbacks again.He was 0-3 with a 7.16 ERA in three starts against them, and Goldschmidt hasrocked him for five home runs in just 14 career at-bats.

Right now Ive got something to strive for, getting to thepostseason, but its definitely going to be in the back of my mind, this team,and what theyve done to me, he said.

I think it just comes back to throwing strikes. I feel thegames Ive had that went bad against these guys its been leaving pitches up,which you cant do at their field. And I just havent gotten out of the jamsIve needed to make the outings against the Diamondbacks look better.

Lincecum said he plans to throw an extra time off a bullpenmound, suggesting hell get more time between now and his next start as theGiants rearrange their rotation for the postseason. Then itll be deadline day.

Death and taxes are certain. This season, Lincecum has been anything but.

Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park


Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have made a habit in recent winters of “kicking the tires,” so to speak, on as many free agents as possible. General manager Bobby Evans is committed to being thorough, but at times there is probably no need. 

Hitters have made no secret of the fact that they prefer friendlier confines, and if you’re a power hitter, you’re going to ask Evans for a significantly larger check to play 81 of your games at the harshest power park in the majors. That’s what makes Giancarlo Stanton, readily available via trade, so intriguing. But would Stanton be fully immune to the realities of AT&T Park?

The numbers, at least in a small sample, suggest he would. Stanton has played 27 games in San Francisco and taken 108 at-bats. He has nine homers, 11 doubles and a triple. His .676 slugging percentage at AT&T Park isn’t far off his mark at Coors Field (.714), and his 1.048 OPS is higher than his OPS during the 2017 season, when he hit 59 homers. 

The damage has been done in limited time, but the Giants clearly believe it’s fully sustainable, and a recent study done by ESPN’s Dan Szymborski backs that up. Szymborski ran his ZiPS projection system to estimate Stanton’s stats over the next 10 years for a variety of suitors. The numbers in orange and black are overwhelming. 

The projections have Stanton at 46.2 WAR over the next 10 seasons, including 7.1 in 2018 and 6.8 in 2019, the two seasons the organization should be focused on given Madison Bumgarner’s contract situation. ZiPS projects Stanton at 46 homers next season if he plays for the Giants, followed by 43, 42, 39, 35 over the following four years. For comparison’s sake, Brandon Belt led the Giants in homers each of the last two seasons and he has 35 total during that span. 

Any sort of projection system needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt, especially with a player who has had injury issues in the past. But ZiPS believes Stanton -- who plays in a huge park already -- is a rarity, the kind of power hitter who can keep crushing well into his 30’s and put up huge numbers even if he is limited by the realities of getting older and getting hurt. Szymborski’s projections have Stanton playing just 102 games in 2025, but he’s still projected to hit 23 homers, 20 doubles and post an OPS+ of 121. Even in the 10th year of the projections, ZiPS has Stanton down for 16 homers. 

There are no sure things in this game, but as Evans continues to chase a blockbuster deal, he can be confident that Stanton is one player who should be able to provide power for years to come, no matter what AT&T Park does to hold hitters down. 

Former A's slugger Gomes offers Ohtani scouting report: 'Big fan of the dude'


Former A's slugger Gomes offers Ohtani scouting report: 'Big fan of the dude'

Former A's left fielder/DH and Bay Area native, Jonny Gomes, last played Major League Baseball in 2015. The next year, Gomes looked to continue his career in Japan with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. 

Gomes struggled in Japan, batting just .169 in 18 games. While in Japan though, Gomes saw firsthand the two-way talent of Shohei Ohtani. 

"The dude throws 100 miles per hour consistently," Gomes said Tuesday to MLB Network Radio. "That plays."

With MLB, the Players Association, and the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization agreeing to a new posting system, Ohtani should soon be available as a free agent to MLB teams. Gomes was adamant that Ohtani will live up to the hype. 

"If you have the arm speed to throw 100 miles per hour, guess what your slider's gonna do -- yikes. And he also has a split, which is yikes with that arm speed. And he also has a changeup, and he also has a curveball. You're talking about five plus, plus, plus pitches.

"If he was in the draft, I think it would be a no-brainer right now that he'd be No. 1 overall," Gomes said. 

Since turning pro as an 18-year-old, Ohtani has been a dominant force on the mound. The 6-foot-3 right-hander owns a 42-15 career record with a 2.52 ERA and 1.076 WHIP. 

What makes Ohtani, 23, so intriguing is that he's not only the best pitcher in Japan, he may be the best hitter too. In 2017, Ohtani hit .332 with eight home runs in 65 games. The left fielder/DH owns a .286/.358/.500 career slash line with 48 home runs. 

"Now hitting wise, is it gonna transfer, is it not? I've seen the dude hit a fly ball that hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome," Gomes remembers. "So, what does that tell you? That bat speed's there, that power's there, that he's generating a lot out front.

"To be able to hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome is way more impressive than hitting any other roof in the states. It would be like hitting the roof in Seattle when it was closed, it's way up there."

Everyone knows about Ohtani off-the-charts talent. The stats are there. What we don't know as much about is his personality. Gomes does and he believes his leadership will make him be a star in the states. 

"I'm a big fan of the dude," Gomes says. "I saw his work ethic, I saw how players treated him, I saw how respectful he was. Over there it's all about seniority. Granted he was the biggest star on the field at any given moment, but still gave the utmost respect to seniority guys on his ball club."