How is Tim Lincecum like Jake Arietta?

July 09, 2012 | James Finn

With no Orioles to talk about the next few days (I’ll likely do a report card or evaulation of some sort this week, much like everyone else on the Barstool will), I thought I’d share a debate I had recently.  This story, though not about an Orioles player, does have some parallels,

It was June 27th, and I was having a discussion with a friend and classmate of mine (who will remain anonymous in this instance) about Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum.   This discussion wasn’t at a bar over a pint, as he’s not yet old enough to drink (and lives quite a distance away), nor was it over the phone, as I don’t use my iPhone for much else other then texting, mobile internet, and Angry Brids.  Our discussion took place on his Facebook wall.

“The Freak”, who had struggled through most of the season was coming off an impressive Wednesday afternoon outing, pitching 7 shutout innings 0f 4-hit baseball.  He had command of his fastball, all of his pitches, really, and whiffed 8 batters.   The Giants would win that game, 3-0, tying the slumping Dodgers for 1st place in the NL West.

My friends immediate reaction: TIM LINCECUM IS BACK!

His post spouted off how he was pitching with confidence and conviction, and when he does this, he’s the at the level of untouchable 2 time Cy Young award winner.  I would retort that while he looked great, he did it against a Dodgers squad that, at time time, had only won 1 of their last 9 games (they would lose their next 3), and that hadn’t scored a run since Sunday (reminder: it was now Wednesday).  I told him to wait until his next start, because even Jake Arietta has a good start now and then.  I used Arietta as an example, because at the time, both pitchers had comparable stats in wins (3) and ERA (around 5.50).

My friend would retort, mostly in caps, about how Lincecum shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breath as Arietta (and I generally agree), and about his pedigree as a 4 time all star and World Series champion.  He brought up previous struggles, and how he’d worked through them, citing a stretch in August ’10, where he went 0-5 with a deplorable 7.82 ERA.  Tim worked through it, delivering a 5-1 September, with a 1.94 ERA.

I’d end the back and forth saying that I like Lincecum.  He’s got a fire, drive, charisma, and long locks of hair that make any 80’s Metal God experiencing male pattern baldness jealous.  Problem with him is that he’d gone from the most talented and feared starting pitcher on the planet, to 4th best on his own squad.  Matt Cain was just coming off perhaps the greatest game ever thrown by a pitcher, Madison Bumgarner is legit, and Ryan Vogelsong, though 34, is pitching the best baseball of his career.

“If he has history of struggles, then we’ll be having a similar talk when he tanks again next season (or perhaps, his next start when he faces the Nats).” Is how our back and forth ended.

Well, he faced the Nationals, and they lit him up for 8 runs (7 earned) in 3 1/3 innings.  His start yesterday against the Pirates was equally bad (6 runs, 3.1 innings).

Now my friend and I haven’t communicated since.  Lincecum goes into the all star break with the worst ERA in the bigs (6.42), worst WHIP (1.58), and with 10 losses, only 1 of 4 pitchers to hit this mark of futility.  To say “The Franchise” is the most disappointing player of the season so far is the mother of understatements.

Lincecum’s struggles are similar to that of a Jake Arietta.  The only difference is that because Lincecum has had big time success, he still has the support of fans.  Many have jumped off the bandwagon, as people often do in down times, but some are still there offering support.  Arietta, yet to taste success in the big leagues, still has potential, but like Lincecum, seems right now to lack that confidence to make him successful.  Arietta supporters, however, dwarf what “The Freak has”. Same can be said for other struggling players on the O’s roster.  The ability and talent is there, it’s just figuring out what it takes to pull it out of them, and a bigger factor, lack of support.

On a final note, tonight is the Semi-finals of the WNSTBSMS at Hooters of Towson.  Good luck to everyone coming out tonight.  Here’s hoping I don’t suffer that same lack of support.

@JamesTFinn on Twitter.