I had some initial anxiety about his high pitch count, but after reading the after-game comments by Bochy and The Kid, I really think everyone just need to pay attention to what Lincecum is saying about his health, he should be the source people listen to.
He says he's fine, he's still not icing his arm, he was out the next day and throwing hard (again, like usual), what more do people need to hear to understand he's different?
Bochy also noted that he takes less pitches to warm up, so that allows him to take more pitches in-game relative to other starters.
And it's not like he's one of those dumb "take ball, throw hell of ball even though my arm is killing me" type of pitchers.
For one, he knows what's at stake. He turned down high 6 figures from the Indians, holding out for $1M, else he'd be doing his wonderful Timmy-ness for the Indians right now and he, Lee, and CC would be leading the Indians to an AL Central title right now.
Second, he's not looking for a contract like Cain and Lowry, he's going commando and going for arbitration gold and platinum with added bling on top. Think he's going to risk that by pushing his arm outside its comfort zone, just to keep his spot, like Jesse Foppert apparently did? He's already eyeing 2-5 seasons ahead, why would he risk that just to get a complete game shutout in his pocket for 2008? When he has accomplished so much with regards to getting a good salary in arbitration sooner than later.
And, not only will we not know for years whether he will have an injury from this, we won't even know if there is any connection between the 138 pitches and any future arm problems. It could be his throwing so much every day for so many years. It could be it was just the time for it to break, age, not usage, could be the trigger. It could be genetic and randomly broke when something else happened.
We don't know, we won't ever know.
And as much as I want to do a celebratory dance over a Giants World Series championship (like the French did over their victory) as much as any other Giants fan, it's not about you or me, it's about Lincecum and what he wants to accomplish in his career, in his season.
Like Bochy noted, it's like being a parent, you are not comfortable letting them do things you would rather not let them do, but at some point you have to let go and trust in them that they will do the right thing. If he wants to accomplish this and he seems capable of doing it (he was still firing in mid-90's fastballs at that point) and, more importantly, been honest previously in saying when he was fine and when he was gassed, which Bochy says he has been, then why not let him take his steps without you (and pray he doesn't fall)?
Ultimately, this can be very insulting to Lincecum. Here are these outside people, albeit Giants fans, who think they know my body better than I do, think they know better about my welfare than I do, think I'm an idiot who is throwing just for the hell of doing it, think I'm not smart enough or mature enough to think about my future, think I don't want to do the fun French celebratory dance with them.
Baggarly commented on how Bochy could go that far with the pitch count when managers have stopped going that far over the the past 5-10 years (only Livan and Jason Schmidt had pitch counts that high in recent years).
This reminds me of a joke:
1: What’s that gun you have?
2: It’s an elephant gun.
1: Elephant gun? There isn’t an elephant for hundreds of miles!
2: See! It’s working!
The lack of starting pitchers throwing a lot of pitches is totally a sign that managers are CYA’ing because there is no concrete proof that, say, throwing over 130 pitches in a game will absolutely cause a player to perform poorly or become injured. It has been all theory for the most part, theory that didn’t stand up to muster in Bill James’s opinion.
Just like managers used to not favor high OBP hitters previously, that didn’t mean that there was no value to them, just that it wasn’t recognized. Just like managers used to sacrifice all the time with their best hitters or try to steal just to steal, that didn’t mean that those were the right things to do either. And they did both for many years, without evidence that they were the right thing to do, they just had a theory, which sabermetrics helped proved to be wrong.
Every player is an individual. I’m satisfied that the Giants management are monitoring Lincecum. Sometimes you do the right thing and a bad result happens or a the wrong thing and a good result happens. Doesn’t change the situation for me, I think the Giants are doing OK by Lincecum, if his arm isn’t hurting enough to ice, which is something almost every other major league starting pitcher has to do (and I think Oswalt has stopped doing that, he has started icing his arm now) then I don’t think his arm is getting that stressed by the game. So even if something happens to him, I think it was just meant to be, not because of poor management.
And particularly since he himself is observant enough - and frank enough - to talk about when exactly his arm does feel fatigued. How many players talk about when they are weak or vulnerable in any way, like none?
Believe it or not, sometimes it is not about the team or about you, the fan, it is about the player. Lincecum has a lot of pride and he wanted both a complete game and a shutout. Fortunately he was able to get both of the them out of the way in the same game. And it is something like getting both a shutout and a complete game that will catch the eyes of Cy Young voters, they are still in the 20th Century in that regard, though improving.
It would also help that he gets 20 wins, but the complete game and shutout was there in his grasp and he was not tiring, whereas 20 wins would be dependent on winning three more games, particularly against a Colorado team that appears to own him and particularly because the rotation would have to be adjusted to give him another start. If he was not tiring, I think adding another game to his season vs. that one additional inning, would be more harmful.
And if the Giants decide to shut him down a bit going forward, voters would be understanding of that, I think, now and would have that shutout to keep his Cy Young hopes alive and well. Plus, when you get down to it, it is still a macho type of thing to do and I think voters can respect that, whereas squeezing in another start to get him 20 would appear more manipulative and less seemly.
Giants Thoughts: In Timmy We Trust
As I noted, got a much larger post coming soon, but while I can sympathize with the worry over Lincecum throwing 138 pitches in a game, I think we have to trust in The Kid. It's his life, his accomplishments, his career, his life.
He knows what's at stake long term, he has been self-aware of himself and how others consider him to be odd for a long time, and he's been not only OK with it, but able to be himself in spite of the peer pressure to conform. Most of us don't have the self-confidence period, let alone when you are 24 years old (and younger, he's been battling this for years now), to not do what others are telling you to do?
I understand that there are those baseball players who throw out their arms all in the glory that is baseball, but Tim Lincecum is not one of them. He knows what he is capable of doing and at some point people should stop doubting him if he says his arm does not hurt, if he says he is OK. He's not happy just to be a major leaguer, he clearly has career aspirations that goes beyond just being a major league pitcher, and he won't be able to accomplish them if he is stupid with his arm and pitch when he's straining or tiring or hurting. Either you trust him or you don't.
And not to be so blunt with this, but he's looking for his share of the MLB golden goose, fair and square. He doesn't need Boras to bully owners and/or cut ethical corners to get his money, but he's not going to just be happy here either, he wants what he has earned, nothing more, nothing less, and he is willing to work hard to earn that. That's true American values right there, something to be admired.
I will end with a quote from Henry David Thoreau, which was given to me by my 12th grade English Teacher, Mrs. Holland (she got me):
If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he
hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however
measured or far away.