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Tim Lincecum’s Father On How Tim Can Improve His Pitching Velocity

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Tim Lincecum’s father was recently interviewed online about his advice on how to help improve Tim’s pitching velocity from it’s present average speed of 91 mph back up to 95 mph as it was 2 and 3 years ago.

I recall watching Tim in his first big league start throw two pitches at 100 mph. That was impressive since at his size of 5’10” 170 lbs. few pitchers are even given a chance to play pro ball.

Chris Lincecum had been Tim’s coach nearly his entire career. He obviously did a great job since Tim was not only a first round pick out of college, but has won two Cy Young awards in succession in 2008 and 2009.

Chris Lincecum is Tim’s major influence so it is quite likely that Tim would listen to his father’s advice about how he could improve his pitching velocity. But should he?

Is Long Toss The Solution For Improving Tim Lincecum’s Velocity?

And what advice did Chris Lincecum give Tim for improving his pitching velocity? Unfortunately, Chris Lincecum, like so many others, strongly believes that Tim’s problem would be solved by doing more long toss.

And yet Chris Lincecum, like all the other long toss advocates, can give neither a common sense nor an evidence based reason why long toss would work to improve Tim Lincecum’s pitching velocity or anyone else’s. This is because there is no plausible reason why long toss could have any affect on any pitcher improving his pitching velocity as long as he is fully conditioned to pitch.

Would long toss help a “couch potato” improve his velocity? Yes. But any activity would help a poorly conditioned person throw with more velocity.

Apparently, Tim Lincecum has decided to team up with fellow Giant’s starter Barry Zito, who is the consummate long tosser. And yet, Barry Zito, who said he finally got back to long toss in 2008 after not emphasizing it as much as previously in his career, has not seen his velocity improve with more long toss.

If long toss has not helped Barry Zito, who says he emphasizes throwing the ball very, very long, then how would long toss help Tim Lincecum or any other pitcher?

My book – How To Build And Develop The Natural Explosive Pitcher explains how pitchers can dramatically improve and it shows you how to build or improve proper mechanics for more velocity and less stress to the arm.

Shouldn’t Chris Lincecum Have Considered This Fact Before Recommending Long Toss?

Barry Zito, as a college freshman, was hitting 91-93 mph. This of course helped get him drafted in the first round as a college junior out of USC by the A’s. If Barry was throwing then, like he is now between 85 and 87 mph, does anyone believe the A’s would have taken him in the first round? Very, very unlikely.

And if anyone were to look back at the difference between Barry’s mechanics as a college pitcher and now as a big league pitcher struggling, they would see that there is little in common between his mechanics then and now.

So now we will have Tim Lincecum teaming up with Barry Zito – both of whom are having poor career years in 2010. Doesn’t anyone see the relationship?

Tim Lincecum’s strikeouts are down while his hits and homeruns are up over his last two years. Walks are not much different but still too high for a starting pitcher.

What Would Help Tim Lincecum Improve His Pitching Velocity?

You are probably wondering what I would recommend to help Tim Lincecum get his fastball back to upper instead of lower 90’s. After all, does anyone know of a pitcher at any level who would not like to have an extra 5-7 mph at their disposal, especially against major league hitters?

I would want to know what is different between what Tim is doing now compared to his previous two seasons where he won the Cy Young award.

Here Is Specifically What I Would Want To Know:

  1. What has changed with Tim Lincecum’s overall practice routine? Is he throwing less bullpen pitches or using less throwing intensity? Is he more focused on saving his arm than on improving his pitching skills?
  2. Has anything been added or taken away or de-emphasized in between starts? Is he doing more conditioning and less actual mound pitching?
  3. How do his mechanics compare? If you look at the above photo comparison you can see that his trunk angle has changed which affects the position of his arm. There are other things as well you could only see if you were watching the actual video. For example, his back foot is off the ground prior to ball release. And he is not holding his trunk back at landing as he did in 2008…which means he has lost both distance and time to apply force to the ball.

I am very surprised that Tim’s father Chris has not noticed the difference.

But of course major league baseball, as well as college and high school, does not put much stock in videotaping or in analyzing mechanics because most pitching coaches at all levels are poorly educated on how to analyze a pitcher’s delivery so that they are efficient, explosive and yet less stressful on the pitcher’s arm.

Plus if any athlete in any skill activity has reduced performance from one year to the next, whether golf, tennis or baseball, wouldn’t it make sense to compare mechanics from one year to the next.

Throwing With Less Velocity Does Not Improve Control

It should also be pointed out that even though Tim Lincecum is throwing 5 mph less than normal, his control has not improved. So throwing with less velocity will not necessarily help improve control.

Parents and coaches alike should never slow a pitcher down to help him improve his control. All you do is sacrifice pitching velocity while gaining nothing. But you do, over time, adversely affect pitching velocity.

So the answer to those questions and a review of Tim’s pitching mechanics would provide the reason why Tim Lincecum has lost 5 mph on his average fastball – and of course how he can get it back.

6 Responses to “Tim Lincecum’s Father On How Tim Can Improve His Pitching Velocity”

  1. Jarreus Reply

    Different beliefs and ideas are debatable depending on who you talk to, but one thing that simply cannot be debated are facts backed up by science. That is just another reason why Ive bought into your program Mr. Mills. It seems often times a coach or parent is quick to want to lend information or tactics or personal beliefs, but when you ask them to show their logic…THEY NEVER CAN OR IT SIMPLY DOSEN’T MAKE SENSE!

  2. Dr. George Siegfried, D.C. Reply

    Falling off to left vs.forward.
    Shoulder won’t be “in the glove”
    Throwing across his body due to landing off, etc. Also hard to tell from this angle whether initial landing is on “outside of foot” or ball of foot across midline, etc.
    Has lost weight. Strength too? Looks weaker.
    Head, chin, nose too far left vs. over the navel, and towards the glove due to off balance from the start? Due to “new motion” he was experimenting with? He has rebounded lately though.
    If this motion continues, first the back, as he already has had issues there; then neck, shoulder, elbow problems.
    Watch for his name in the Baseball Weekly Injury Report ?
    Also probably a poor diet. Look at his teeth, so much follows from poor diet: Poor nervous system control, command, etc.
    Basically wearing down due to mechanics, diet, structural imbalance?
    Hopefully not. Gifted athletes have ways of rebounding if essentials are found, utilized, etc.

  3. Richard Todd Reply

    Still at it, I see. Good to know. BTW, in the photos above – the cameras are at different angles – look how much farther to the right of the pitcher the camera is in the 2008 photo – you can tell by the daylight between pitcher and catcher.

    Visualize moving the 2010 camera over to the right to create the same space. The yellow angle will drop from being so acute, the images would make for a better comparison.

    Also without knowing the camera distances, and their set focal lengths, you can not make assumptions about body mass. So it is not a good way to judge mechanical differences. And I see nothing in either shot that has anything to do with evidence pro or con long toss.

    The only thing odder in this is talking about the guy’s teeth in two images from the backside. I guess you can claim anything w/o evidence.

  4. Sam Aldama Reply

    Arm coming over the top at about 88 degrees instead of a natural 75 to 80 degrees causing Timmy to lean and pull his body to the side which is causing him to over-rotate. Look at his hips in the 2010 pic. Hips not completely square to home plate. Hips over-rotating and opening up to far too soon losing velocity and control. Yes trunk is going past the brick wall losing inertia. Back foot coming off the ground too soon = rubber band being released too soon before it is wound up all the way losing momentum build up.

  5. Randy Hodges Reply

    Is it possible that Lincecum has lost velocity over the years simply because he has gotten older? You can’t throw 100MPH forever. While his mechanics have changed slightly, I would say his loss of velocity is more due to age than mechanics. Is that reasonable or should Lincecum still be throwing 97-100?

    • Randy,

      I just cannot buy the age factor. It he was late 30’s maybe but not at his age.

      If Lincecum could throw upper 90’s to 100 in 2007 he should be able to right now if he was using the same mechanics.

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