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

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.