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Degradation of Tim Lincecum 2012

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April 13, 2012 – 2:53 am
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I was wondering if anyone else noticed his intent to throw pitches. To me, it’s pretty obvious to see that he is much more rotational at first move than linear. I was also wondering about the amount of unnecessary pitches that he is throwing due to advertisement. So many people are fascinated with his delivery that they want to use it to catch people’s attention. If I were him, I’d also be trying to find a way to make it even less stressful and still compete at a high level.

Kevin Votaw

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April 13, 2012 – 9:08 am
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Good points on the possible economical and mental effects of playing with an abismal offense and dealing with the media frenzy about his motion, but we’re getting away from the key idea here: focusing on things Tim can control. If you get too engrossed or involved in the things you can’t control, it will adversely affect the things you can control. What are some things Tim can control? Here’s a short list:

1. Pace: He sets this and Brent’s said it before, not only does he have to obtain the mechanics of the old Lincecum (more linear), but he needs the speed of movement as well to throw as fast as his former self at UW (go watch his MLB Network video demonstrating his mechanics and he even says it himself that rhythm is key and it is the most important thing and he even counts in his head sometimes to keep himself consistent. I think he’s simply out of tune, no pun intended.

2. Process: There is so much failure in baseball. It happens. Plain and simple. Once you release that ball, you have zero control over whether the ump calls the pitch a ball or strike, the hitter connects or not, or a fielder makes an error. Again, things will go wrong at times. But you can always control your routine, focusing on the process, not the result. It goes right back to the point above, you can control your rhythm/time of motion, your pitching routine, your stride length, your landing spot, and your pitch selection. If you’re consistent with those things each and everytime on the mound, you’ll be more consistent at home too.

3. Presence: Brent’s talked about this at length as well, but when you’re on the mound, everything starts with you. Nothing happens until you decide it does. Confidence is absolutely crucial to anything you do in baseball or life, and it is your choice to set the tone on the mound that nothing is going to faze you.


Set the pace. Set the process. Set the presence. You do that, you will be successful, no matter what the scoreboard or stat sheet says.


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April 13, 2012 – 9:36 am
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Pace, Process and Presence are physical things that Tim can and must control, but one cannot discount the mental side of the game.  You heard the phrase “he’s got a million dollar arm and a ten cent brain”, pitching is more mental than it is physical.  When a pitcher has his mind in the right frame set, Pace, Process and Presence will take care of itself. 


I believe he is trying to be perfect every time out.  When a pitcher tries to be perfect on every pitch, he will slow down his mechanics trying to get everything to happen in the correct sequence.  Command becomes inconsistent and as a result, throws too many pitches.  Too many pitches leads to fatigue which in turn will lead to even less command and less mechanical efficiency.  Its a viscious cycle. 




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July 6, 2013 – 2:40 pm
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A lot of excellent points made in this thread.


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July 8, 2013 – 6:44 am
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Kevin said
Hey everyone, it’s been far too long.

Just wanted to briefly weigh in on this topic. Brent, you’re dead-on. He’s clearly slowed down and is over-rotating, causing further problems with his consistency and command. Personally, I think his issues are an easy fix: move faster. We talked about this at length in another post, but in his smaller frame, he can’t afford to move as “slow” as a Justin Verlander from a basic physics and strength standpoint.

My recommendation? Use his love of music, similar to what that guy does: consistently listen to a song(s) with a fast beat (120 + beats per minute) and move along with it. As of now, I think he just does whatever, and it has worked for him in the past, but sometimes routines are the best thing for a pitcher (just ask Roy Halladay and Google his struggles before turning elite). If he gets moving faster, he won’t have time to rotate as far back and will divert to his mechanics in the video of when he pitched for The University of Washington. That’ll get him going and back on track. Until then, things may get worse before they get better.

Excellent question and topic.

This is another one of my favorite articles – “A Story Forgotten – Halladay’s Reinvention.”  The article does describe the benefit to Halladay of establishing routines. I did not have the web link, but had copied the article to a word document.  Recently, Halladay has had shoulder surgery. 

A Story Forgotten:

Halladay’s Reinvention

Update:  Welcome Philly fans.  This article will help to get to know your newest acquisition, Roy Halladay.  Although he has a reputation of being an out-making machine with an other worldy work ethic, he didn’t start out that way.  Below you will find out that it was a long hard struggle for Roy Halladay to reach the pinnacle of pitching prowess that he currently enjoys today.  He is the greatest Toronto Blue Jay to ever have worn the uniform and this is why.

Roy Halladay was the Toronto Blue Jays’ first round draft pick in 1995 and made an impressive debut in 1998 when he was called up to face the Detroit Tigers.  Not having seen the tall drink of water that is Roy Halladay, the Tigers had no match for the combination of Halladay’s upper 90’s fastball and knee-buckling overhand curve.  Halladay carried a no-hitter to the 9th inning with 2 out only to give up a solo home run to Bobby Higginson (which, incidentally, was caught in the bullpen by Dave Stieb, infamous for taking perfect games into the 9th, but I digress.)  Jays fans heads’ were spinning with the prospect of a rotation that included Pat Hentgen, Chris Carpenter, Kelvim Escobar and this lanky blond-haired blue-eyed stud who took a no hitter into the bottom of the ninth in his first start.

Things did not turn out as originally planned.  In 2000, Halladay set the record for highest ERA among major league pitchers (10.53) with a minimum 50 innings pitched. Ever. Out of any pitcher to have ever played the game.

The following spring, Halladay allowed 22 baserunners in 10 1/3 innings. Something had to give.

When the Blue Jays cut Roy Halladay from their major league camp that spring, the move was so drastic that they summoned a counselor from their employee assistance program, director Tim Hewes, to help break the news to him. Halladay, who had been hailed as an ace-in-the-making, was not simply demoted. Hewes told Halladay he was being demoted, not just to the minors, but all the way down to Class A.

Halladay’s self-confidence was already in tatters from a terrible spring and he took the news as would any 23-year-old with a wife and a newborn son. Which is why the Jays had a trained psychologist break it to him.

“He had terrible results on the field and I don’t think he was feeling too good about himself away from the field,” said Gord Ash, now an assistant GM with the Milwaukee Brewers.  ”I don’t really know where the inspiration for this whole experiment, if you will, came from. I just didn’t think the right thing to do was send him to Triple A.

”I told him, “We need to start all over again.’”

“That wasn’t even the worst part,” he says. “The worst was walking back into the locker room to face my teammates and talking about what was going on. I wished I was invisible.”

Halladay quickly discovered how far from the big leagues Dunedin, Fla., is.

“The postgame spread,” he says, “was peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches.”

What happened during the following 95 days in Dunedin was reminiscent of a scene out of the movie “The Karate Kid”.  He had his remaining confidence shattered, his personality altered and his entire baseball approach destroyed and reconstructed in a way few careers would have survived.

He tried to fit in with his awe-struck teammates, curious about the major leaguer who had been one out from a no-hitter against Detroit in only his second career start in 1998.

Current Yankees’ catcher Kevin Cash says few players today would recognize Halladay. “He was a lot different than he is now. He was joking around a lot, doing stuff with the team.”

Then-Dunedin manager Marty Pevey remembers being impressed by how the pitcher “worked his butt off” and took extra fielding practice in which Pevey would “hit rockets towards him” on the mound.

But the impressing stopped on April 7, 2001, when Halladay allowed two hits over two innings against Sarasota in the first of several relief appearances. Two days later, at Fort Myers, he yielded two runs on three hits over two innings. “As soon as the hitter would take a 94- or 95 mile-per-hour fastball and foul it straight back, I knew he was in trouble,” Pevey says. “He was giving the hitters a very good look at the ball.”

After 13 relief outings, Halladay was 0-1 with a 3.97 ERA and he had allowed 33 runners over 22 2/3 innings.

Pevey told Ash that hitters were sitting on Halladay’s dreadfully flat fastball. He was also “still fiddling around” with a knuckle curve and barely controlled his change-up.

Enter Pat Morita.

Ash placed an urgent call to former Jays pitching coach Mel Queen, a 59-year-old ex-major leaguer and “old school” mentor who once got the attention of Cy Young Award winner Pat Hentgen by shoving him up against a dugout wall.
Then a special assignment scout for the Jays, Queen had Ash fly Halladay to Toronto’s Double-A affiliate at Knoxville, Tenn., for private tutelage. Halladay felt the move was a promotion and remembers greeting Queen, whom he’d known in Toronto, the day he stepped on the field in Knoxville.

“I went over and said, ‘Hi, how’re you doing?’ and he said – and I’ll never forget it – ’You’re wasting talent, Doc.’”

In the days that followed, the guru let his pupil have it.

“You know what?” Queen says. “I wouldn’t have blamed him if he had hauled off and cold-cocked me, the way I was talking to that young man. And to his credit, he sat there and took it, and that’s what convinced me this guy was ready. He could have easily have walked out, the way I was verbally abusing him, but he was more than receptive.”

At one point, an ornery Queen glared at Halladay. “I basically told him he wasn’t a very intelligent young man,” Queen said. “In fact, as far as baseball-wise, I told him he was pretty naïve and stupid. And that’s got to change.”
The words stung Halladay, a poor student early on in school who had worked extra hard later for marks, earning a 3.6 grade point average his senior year at Arvada West High School in Colorado.
As a boy, Halladay wrote “baseball player” on teachers’ questionnaires asking what he wanted to be. Queen’s verbal attacks played on Halladay’s darkest fears that, without the game, he would be lost in life. 

“Off the field, you feel like your whole life is baseball and then all of a sudden you’re a failure,” Halladay says. “And then you feel like it makes your whole life a failure.”

Halladay admits he couldn’t grasp things like scouting reports, at-bats by opposing hitters and knowing how to deal with situations on the mound.

 ”I’d always felt like I was missing something,” he says. “And to hear him say that, obviously, it hurt. But I think the most important thing is that, by that point, I was ready to hear it and fix something.”

Queen lowered Halladay’s arm angle from an over-the-top throwing motion and taught him new grips to help his flat fastball sink and cut. Halladay was also berated by Queen for admitting he’d actually forgotten how to throw his curve (while he is trying to be a major league pitcher with a wife and newborn at home). 

Jays designated hitter Josh Phelps, then a catcher with Tennessee, was assigned as Halladay’s full-time battery mate. Just like the “wax-on, wax-off” scene from the Karate Kid, Queen made the pair stand only 10 feet apart and play catch, with Halladay focusing on spinning the baseball to regain his curve. That went on for three days.

Halladay finally moved to the bullpen and threw eight side sessions in 10 days, quite unlike the usual 15-minute variety.

“I was glad I didn’t have to catch the first couple of bullpens he threw because he basically threw for an hour straight,” Phelps says.

A sweat soaked Halladay threw 70 to 100 pitches each time. This reconstruction didn’t end with his curveball.  You name it, Queen altered it.

“I’ve been involved in the aspects of coaching pitching since 1979, and I can’t remember anybody completely changing everything, 100%, the way Roy did,” he says.

“I’ve seen guys come up with new pitches and all that, but not a complete windup, a complete arm angle — everything. I suggested it, but he’s the one who did it, and that’s one of the things that makes Roy Halladay so special.

“He believed what I was saying, and he did what he had to do.”

But as good a team mate as he tried to be, Halladay was coping with how the consequences of his experiment would affect his wife of two years, Brandy, and their 8-month-old son, Braden.

“It’s almost like, ‘If this doesn’t work out, what am I going to do? I really need to decide if I’m going to do this, or if I’m going to do something else to try to support my family.’”

Halladay and a family psychologist assigned by the Jays made a checklist to pinpoint the pitcher’s frailties and concluded he was literally too nice.  (Jays fans: can you believe that?!?!)

He eventually found his own sports psychologist (more on that later).   At the same time, his bullpen sessions continued until Queen said his revamped fastball was “literally exploding” while his other pitches sank and cut with vigour.  His first test, a start at home against the Carolina Mudcats, came on May 26, 2002. Halladay allowed two runs on four hits over five innings.

“He must have broken four or five bats and two of the hits were cheap, little infield singles,” Queen says.

On May 31, Halladay pitched the second game of a double-header in Orlando, allowing only two hits and one earned run while striking out nine.   He went 2-1 with a 2.12 ERA over five starts before being promoted to Triple A.
He needed only two starts from there, going 1-0 with a 3.21 ERA on June 21 and 26, before the Jays finally recalled him on Canada Day.  He arrived at the SkyDome to a swarm of media and teammates wondering what he went through.
In his first start, six days later, Halladay collected a career-high (at the time) 10 strikeouts over six innings against the Montreal Expos and was loudly applauded by the 23,976 inside the SkyDome (Rogers Centre).
“There aren’t many pitchers out there who could do what he did,” says Queen, currently an adviser to Jays’ GM Alex Anthopolous.

Halladay finished the season 5-3 with a 3.16 ERA and left five games with leads that were blown by the bullpen.

The following season, he went 19-7, but couldn’t shake a nagging feeling his success might end. That’s when sports psychologist Harvey Dorfman showed up at a Blue Jays game.   Halladay was familiar with Dorfman since his wife, Brandy, had purchased a book authored by Dorfman early on in his career.

Halladay introduced himself and later phoned Dorfman for advice about his fear of failure.

The thing about Roy,” Dorfman says, “is he knows how important the mental aspect is to performance. And he knew he was, for lack of a better word, unsophisticated about it.”

Dorfman consulted with him, gave him books – specifically the Mental ABC’s of pitching – a book Roy re-reads every day at his locker, got him to focus on the good and not the potential bad. “From that time to this moment,” Dorfman says, “he is one of the most able guys I’ve ever met to put information into behavior.”
They devised a plan that called for plenty of repetition in his daily routine, replicating what he did when successful.

His routine gives him something to fall back on should things go wrong. It sees him arrive at the SkyDome no later than 1 p.m and former cross-country runner has racked up many miles jogging atop a SkyDome catwalk.

He hits the weight room regularly to keep his 6-foot-6, 225-pound physique in top form. No one dares talk to him the day he is pitching.
Halladay went 19-7 in 2002, followed by his Cy Young year of 22-7. “If you’re talking about Mel and Harvey,” he says, “I honestly don’t think I’d could have gotten it done without either of them.”
Asked what makes Roy Halladay the most dominant pitcher in baseball, the Yankees slugger Mark Teixeira stated: “All his pitches start in the same place and end in a different place.” 

“He’s definitely got the best stuff that I’ve seen — I’d put him right up there with Pedro in 1999,” said Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Raúl Ibáñez. “His sinker and his cutter, they’re going in completely opposite directions. Even if you guess right, it doesn’t mean you hit it, because he locates them so well. If he was in New York or Boston, fans would know more about him. But in baseball circles, he’s the best.”

“When you go through something like what I did, no matter how difficult it was, it can only make you stronger,” Halladay says.

“The important thing is that I did get through it and I’m stronger for it.”

Finishing strong, that’s what’s important to me.”



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July 8, 2013 – 6:49 am
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Pace, Process and Presence are physical things that Tim can and must control, but one cannot discount the mental side of the game.  You heard the phrase “he’s got a million dollar arm and a ten cent brain”, pitching is more mental than it is physical.  When a pitcher has his mind in the right frame set, Pace, Process and Presence will take care of itself. 


I believe he is trying to be perfect every time out.  When a pitcher tries to be perfect on every pitch, he will slow down his mechanics trying to get everything to happen in the correct sequence.  Command becomes inconsistent and as a result, throws too many pitches.  Too many pitches leads to fatigue which in turn will lead to even less command and less mechanical efficiency.  Its a viscious cycle. 



I agree that  pitcher cannot try to be “too perfect.”  At the same time, leaving a ball out over the plate at 90mph versus 95mph is more of a risk.  The drop in Lincecum’s velocity challenges him to rely a lot more on commanding pitches and interrupting the timing of batters.


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