Because I’ve grown tired of writing about the superfecta of Tim Lincecum’s possible reasons for struggling — mechanics, health, mental state, and weight — I decided to go through yesterday’s 5-0 loss to the Texas Rangers and see if I could find any other patterns that could be contributing to his slow start.

On that note, I went through and diagrammed each pitch Lincecum made with two strikes on a Rangers hitter. That includes the speed, pitch type, location and result. Here’s what I found.

1st Inning

Situation: 0-2 to Ian Kinsler (bases empty)
Pitch: 85 mph changeup
Location: just above the belt
Result: strikeout (swinging)

Situation: 3-2 to Josh Hamilton (bases empty)
Pitch: 85 mph changeup
Location: low and inside
Result: walk

Situation: 2-2 to Adrian Beltre (runner on first)
Pitch: 85 mph changeup
Location: inside, in the dirt
Result: take

Situation: 3-2 to Beltre
Pitch: 92 mph fastball
Location: up and in
Result: walk

Situation: 2-2 to David Murphy (runners on first and second)
Pitch: 83 mph slider
Location: high
Result: take

Situation: 3-2 to Murphy
Pitch: 92 mph fastball
Location: outside corner at the belt
Result: fouled off to the left

Situation: 3-2 to Murphy
Pitch: 92 mph fastball
Location: inside corner below the belt
Result: fouled just out of play near Giants dugout

Situation: 3-2 to Murphy
Pitch: 91 mph fastball
Location: down the middle
Result: fouled off to the left

Situation: 3-2 to Murphy
Pitch: 84 mph changeup
Location: in the dirt
Result: walk

Situation: 1-2 to Mike Napoli (bases loaded)
Pitch: 84 mph changeup
Location: outside corner at the knees
Result: groundout to third (inning over)

2nd Inning

Situation: 1-2 to Mitch Moreland (bases empty)
Pitch: 85 mph slider
Location: inside
Result: strikeout (swinging)

Situation: 1-2 to Craig Gentry (bases empty)
Pitch: 92 mph fastball
Location: up and in
Result: strikeout (swinging)

Situation: 0-2 to Alexei Ogando (bases empty)
Pitch: 92 mph fastball
Location: up and away
Result: take

Situation: 1-2 to Ogando
Pitch: 80 mph curveball
Location: low
Result: check-swing

Situation: 2-2 to Ogando
Pitch: 91 mph fastball
Location: down the middle
Result: strikeout (swinging)

3rd Inning

Situation: 1-2 to Elvis Andrus (bases empty)
Pitch: 91 mph fastball
Location: outside corner
Result: fouled off to the right

Situation: 1-2 to Andrus
Pitch: 92 mph fastball
Location: middle at the belt (note: Buster Posey was setting up away)
Result: triple to right-center

Situation: 1-2 to Hamilton (runner on third)
Pitch: 91 mph fastball
Location: high and outside
Result: take

Situation: 2-2 to Hamilton
Pitch: 90 mph fastball
Location: high
Result: line drive out to second

4th Inning

Situation: 2-2 to Napoli (bases empty)
Pitch: 84 mph changeup
Location: inside
Result: take

Situation: 3-2 to Napoli
Pitch: 91 mph fastball
Location: high
Result: foul near the plate, caught by Brandon Belt

Situation: 1-2 to Gentry (runner on first)
Pitch: 91 mph fastball
Location: up and in
Result: fouled off to the left

Situation: 1-2 to Gentry
Pitch: 84 mph changeup
Location: wheelhouse
Result: infield hit to third

5th Inning

Situation: 0-2 to Moreland (bases empty)
Pitch: 81 mph slider
Location: at the knees
Result: strikeout (swinging)

6th Inning

Situation: 1-2 to Gentry (bases empty)
Pitch: 90 mph fastball
Location: wheelhouse
Result: base hit to center

Final Tally

Changeup: 4 balls, 3 strikes, 1 K, 2 BB, 1 groundout, 1 single (7 pitches)

Curveball: 1 ball (1 pitch)

Slider: 1 ball, 2 strikes, 2 K (3 pitches)

Fastball: 3 balls, 11 strikes, 1 K, 1 BB, 1 flyout, 1 triple, 1 single (14 pitches)

Slash line when Lincecum went to a two-strike count against the Rangers: .273/.429/.455.

Slash line on plate appearances where Rangers hitters didn’t get to two strikes against Lincecum: .400/.438/.600.

Conclusions

Tim Lincecum is predominantly a fastball/changeup pitcher (only 26% of his pitches have been either sliders or curveballs this season), and there are two problems with this. One, he has poor command on both of his favorite pitches, frequently either throwing the ball across the middle of the plate and/or away from the target set by Posey (and Lincecum’s pitches tend to be in a hitter’s “wheelhouse” more often as games wear on). Two, the difference in speeds between his fastball and changeup hasn’t been large enough.

From Joe Sheehan’s recent Sports Illustrated “Inside MLB” piece on Johan Santana after Santana threw the first no-hitter in Mets history:

Santana has lost something, however. A pitcher who once threw 93 mph is averaging 88 mph with his fastball this season. What Santana has managed to do, however, is modulate his changeup accordingly. The sweet spot for a pitcher is a 10-mph gap between his fastball and change. Santana, who at his peak paired his 93-mph heater with an 82-mph change, is now throwing his changeup at 78. For a fastball-changeup pitcher (four of every five deliveries from Santana are one or the other), velocity matters less than speed differentials, and Santana changes speeds just as effectively as he did when he was the best pitcher in baseball.

Check out Lincecum’s average velocities over the years for his fastball and changeup, according to Brooks Baseball.

Since Lincecum shows no signs of adding “pinpoint, Greg Maddux-like command” to his arsenal anytime soon, it would seem that the best way to dominate the only way he knows how (lots and lots of strikeouts) would be to figure out a way to widen the gap in velocity between his fastballs and changeups, like Santana. Easier said than done, but for now I’d rather focus on that than whether or not he’s eating too few cheeseburgers or if his dad needs to come down to San Francisco and “save” him.