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Collette Calls: Time To Roll With Lincecum

Jason Collette

Jason has been helping fantasy owners since 1999 at RotoJunkie, Fanball, Baseball Prospectus and now here at RotoWire. He covers the Tampa Bay Rays at You can hear Jason weekly on many of the Sirius/XM Fantasy channel offerings throughout the season as well as on the Towers of Power Baseball Hour Podcast on iTunes. He was selected as the Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year by FSWA in 2013.

Go get Tim Lincecum for the rest of the season.

Yes, he of the 5.30 ERA and 1.48 WHIP who is just 7-13 this season.

No, I am not high.

No, I am not basing this off of his last start against the Dodgers in which he had his highest average velocity of this frustrating season.

Rather, I am basing this on who he is set to face the rest of the season.

As I read the schedule, Lincecum should have seven starts remaining this season. Those seven starts will come against: Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Colorado, Arizona (both home and away), and San Diego to end the season.

He has only faced Houston once this season and it was his first start after the all-star break in which he struck out 11 batters while scattering five hits over eight innings. The Astros roster is in worse shape now than it was in that game making it very likely that Lincecum should have another strong start. The next start comes against Chicago who has but two offensive threats these days in Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro. In fact, only the Mets "offense" has been worse than the Astros and Cubs over the past 30 days in terms of weighted on-base average (wOBA):

  • Mets: .285
  • Cubs: .292
  • Astros: .292
  • Dodgers: .298
  • Diamondbacks: .299
  • Marlins: .299
  • Phillies: .307
  • Pirates: .311
  • Giants: .316
  • Braves: .316
  • Nationals: .317
  • Padres: .322
  • Cardinals: .329
  • Rockies: .333
  • Reds: .341
  • Brewers: .342

Lincecum's third start comes against the Dodgers, who have been struggling mightily on offense themselves, and are a team that Lincecum just successfully shut down. He has faced the Dodgers three times this season and has gone 2-1 with a 2.55 ERA and has struck out 20 batters in 17 innings while walking just five.

After three straight favorable matchups comes the Colorado Rockies, but not in Denver. Lincecum's overall numbers against the Rockies are not good this season, but he has twice pitched in Coors Field where he allowed 20 baserunners in just 8.1 innings and seven earned runs. In the other two starts he made against the Rockies, he allowed seven earned runs in 14 innings and struck out 10 while walking five. It is no secret that the Rockies are a different team on the road than they are at home and they are a struggling team these days. Carlos Gonzalez continues to do great things and Tyler Colvin as well as Wilin Rosario supply the other power threats, but the Rockies lineup overall is underwhelming.

After that start, Lincecum gets back-to-back starts against Arizona, one on the road and one at home. As shown above, the Diamondbacks offense is not very good these days either. Miguel Montero, Aaron Hill, and Paul Goldschmidt have been good lately but the rest of the roster has struggled to be productive and five of their regulars have strikeout rates of 20 percent or higher in the past month. Lincecum has lost both times he has faced Arizona this season mainly due to the fact he allowed three of his 15 homers on the season in those games.

His last start of the season comes against the Padres, who have been surprisingly hot of late. Lincecum has faced the fatherhood three times this season and has struck out 21 batters in 18.2 innings of work while allowing nine earned runs and 23 baserunners. Two of the starts came in San Francisco where Lincecum struggled, particularly on July 25th when he did not even last five innings. One start came in Petco this season where he took a no decision despite striking out eight and walking just one batter through six innings. Historically, Lincecum has pitched very well in Petco as he is 5-2 with a 2.15 ERA there as a pro and has struck out 28 batters while walking four in his last three starts there.

In reviewing his player card information at BrooksBaseball, he does not appear to be doing much different now than he has all season. In fact, he is getting less swings and misses on some of his pitches in August than he has over the course of this season. One thing he is doing in August is throwing more strikes:

ALL 2012
20% 30%
2-fb 21% 16%
sl 12% 17%
cv 21% 20%
ch 7% 0%

It is not much, but if he can establish his fastball for strikes and get ahead in the count, it makes his other pitches more effective. In 2012, when the batter is ahead in the count, they have a .330/.502/.564 slash line against Lincecum in 260 plate appearances. When Lincecum is ahead in the count, batters have a .223/.228/.351 slash line against him in 208 plate appearances. That is a 486 point difference in opponents OPS! Truth be told, his slash line when ahead in the count is still below league average as MLB pitchers have an average opponents slash line of .203/.211/.302 in those situations.

It has been a lost season for Lincecum and his owners but the baseball gods have set up his remaining schedule rather nicely for owners to reclaim some kind of value from Lincecum and it is worth the risk in these final few weeks of the fantasy season.