Tim Lincecum picked up his first win of the season Monday afternoon, a much-needed victory over the Mets that lowered his ERA to 8.20 on the season. Somehow, that feels like a typo.
Lincecum wasn't fantastic, however, lasting only five innings with eight strikeouts and a ghastly five walks. And according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, scouts who saw Lincecum pitch weren't exactly convinced that this signaled the Freak's return to greatness.
"The numbers don't reflect how badly he pitched," one scout told Knobler.
By virtue of the five innings pitched and the five walks and needing a ridiculous play from Manny Burris to get bailed out of a serious jam, it's not hard to argue that Lincecum's outing wasn't "good."
He got the win, sure, but what if he'd pitched two 10-strikeout, one-hit games prior to Monday's start? Then this one would be ugly as all get out. Instead, because Lincecum was sporting the second worst ERA for a starting pitcher in the majors (ahead of only Francisco Liriano, as Knobler notes), this outing was a gigantic sigh of relief.
But as Knobler points out, Lincecum wasn't cranking up the velocity, never getting above 92 on the radar gun, and then only in the first two innings.
"There's no power in his legs," another scout told Knobler.
Lincecum's had slumps before, but this one is particularly concerning, especially with it coming at the beginning of the season. According to Knobler, "there are already whispers around the game that his hip is bothering him," and if that's true, it could absolutely be the cause of decreased velocity, mechanical problems and Lincecum's poor outings.
If The Freak can come out in his next start and produce a solid outing, those whispers will die down. But if Lincecum struggles again against Milwaukee (his next scheduled start, at home), the background noise surrounding his poor start is only going to get louder.