Braves get a chance to add to Lincecum’s struggles
There was a time when the Braves had reason to approach a matchup against Tim Lincecum with some apprehension. Now is not that time.
Baseball’s element of uncertainty tells us that Lincecum could prove to be a problem when he matches up against Tim Hudson at AT&T Park tonight. But a quick glance at the statistics clearly reveals this season has been much more trying than any other ever experienced by San Francisco’s two-time Cy Young Award winner.
When Lincecum exited April with a 5.74 ERA, the overwhelming assumption was that things would get much better for him. Well by the end of June that ERA stood at 5.60 and by the end of July it rested at 5.62. In other words, things have essentially stayed the same much of this season for The Freak.
While compiling a 3.03 ERA over his past five starts, Lincecum has created some reason for optimism among Giants fans. But his other recent statistics have still been un-Lincecum-like.
In four starts this month, Lincecum has allowed opponents to hit .293 and compile a .362 on-base percentage. Those stand as the highest marks he has produced in any month this season.
But history tells us Lincecum is capable of turning things around late in a season.
In five starts in August of 2010, Lincecum was 0-5 with a 7.82 ERA. Opponents hit .311 and compiled a .383 on-base percentage against him.
Most Braves fans likely remember the rest of the story. In the next 11 starts he made through the end of the 2010 World Series, Lincecum went 9-2 with a 2.18 ERA. Included in that stretch was the two-hit shutout he tossed against Atlanta in Game 1 of the Division Series.
Interestingly, that dominant Division Series effort stands as the only win Lincecum has recorded in his past four starts against the Braves. Meanwhile, Hudson enters tonight’s game having led the Braves to wins in seven of his past eight regular season starts against the Giants. The lone loss came on April 9, 2010 when closer Billy Wagner surrendered a game-tying two-out, two-run homer to Edgar Renteria in the ninth inning.
Hudson’s key to success can be simplified to: He needs to stay away from the big inning. Hudson has allowed four runs or more in an inning during seven of his 21 starts. His 3.69 ERA provides some indication about how good he has been in the other 127 innings he has completed this season.