For example, one would think that Lincecum's best pitch is his fastball, particularly since he could reach the high 90's. Nope. He uses the fastball to set up his changeup. He is only 5.6 runs above average with his fastball, but 31.2 runs above average with his changeup. Here's a shocker: there are a lot of middling pitchers who have generated more runs above average using fastballs, Piniero, Happ, Marquis, Correia (yes, that Correia). Still, it is one of the best in the NL.
- Fastball: Cain is 3rd, Lincecum 20th, Zito 27th (out of 46 qualifying starters)
- Slider: Zito is 7th, Lincecum 18th, Cain 32nd
- Curveball: Zito is 4th, Lincecum 16th, Cain 37th
- Changeup: Lincecum is 1st, Cain tied for 3rd, Zito 41st
To give some perspective:
- Fastball: Cain is 3rd with 19.3; Wolf leads with 22.4, Kershaw 2nd 22.2, Piniero 4th 18.0. Lincecum with 5.6. (Correia 9.5)
- Slider: Zito is 7th with 8.3; Dempster is first with 16.3, Wainwright 2nd with 10.5. Ubaldo is 6th with 8.5 and Maholm is 8th with 6.6.
- Curveball: Zito is 4th with 11.3; Wainwright leads with 17.5. Javier Vasquez is 3rd with 12.5 and Billingsly is 5th with 8.9. Lincecum with 5.1.
- Changeup: Lincecum is first with 31.2; next is Javier Vasquez at 10.4. Cain 9.6, tied for 3rd.
Of course, these are all influenced by how often you throw that certain pitch. The more you throw of the pitch, the more runs above average that you generate. Of more import is the rate per 100 pitches:
- Fastball: Cain is 5th with 1.28 wins per 100 pitches, Lincecum 20th 0.39, Zito 29th -0.28, where Carpenter led with 2.13, Wolf 2nd 1.45, Kershaw 4th 1.4, Happ 6th 1.23. C0rreia has 0.81.
- Slider: Zito is 6th with 2.06, Lincecum 11th 1.66, Cain 32nd -0.38, where Kenshin Kawakami led with 5.25, Billingsley 2nd 3.65, Dempster 3rd 2.28, Wainwright 5th 2.26, and Ubaldo 7th 1.95.
- Curveball: Zito is 5th with 2.92, Lincecum 15th with 1.18, Cain 30th -0.97, where Livan led with 4.13, Harang 2nd with 3.3, Vasquez 4th 3.1, Pelfrey 6th 2.58.
- Changeup: Lincecum is 3rd with 5.57, Cain 6th with 3.14, Zito 29th with -1.57, where Braden Looper led with 6.25, Kenshin Kawakami 2nd with 5.77, Josh Johnson 4th 3.77, Vasquez 5th 3.26, Oswalt 7th 2.74.
So that is how our starters have been doing it this season. Lincecum with his changeup, Cain with his fastball and changeup, Zito with his slider and curve.