Over at Fangraphs Dave Cameron has written a nice piece on the growth of Tim Lincecum as a pitcher. I have to say that I agree with most of what he has written. When Tim first came up he was a flame thrower with a plus curveball.
He has evolved into a near unhittable force with 4 pitches that he can and will throw in any situation. The first big change was the development of the changeup. This put him into another catagory, this off season he came back with a slider and a began to work back in the curve which was one of his bread and butter pitches early in his career. The guy has become a complete pitcher, he has lowered his walk rate while maintaining a high strike out rate. His velocity has fallen some since he made his first appearence lighting up the radar gun but he has only gotten more effective.
Here is a nice little piece from the fangraphs post:
The first pitch Tim Lincecum ever threw in the major leagues was reported to be 99 MPH on the Giants stadium gun (we don’t have Pitch F/x data for that performance, unfortunately). He then proceeded to hit 100 three times in his first big league inning, showing the velocity that had gotten him drafted in the first round, even as scouts were concerned with his command, delivery, and workload. In that first year, Lincecum’s fastball averaged 94.2 MPH, the seventh hardest fastball in the game, and he threw it 67 percent of the time.
You don’t need a best fit line to see the trend in that image. His velocity has been steadily falling since he arrived in the big leagues, and through his first three starts this year, his fastball is averaging just 91.7 MPH. He has thrown 312 pitches this year, and only three of them have topped 95. He now throws about as hard as Matt Harrison and Clayton Richard. But, this is the crazy thing – it hasn’t mattered at all.The guy might be a little less freakesh then when he first came up, but he is even more the face of the franchise.