|GRANTLAND.com: The Triangle|
Tim Lincecum's seven innings of shutout ball during that streak gave him 35 strikeouts, 13 walks, and just three home runs allowed over his past five starts, covering 29T innings. Sure, that line came with a still-ugly 5.16 ERA. But beyond a drop in velocity that has had little to no effect on his still-elite strikeout rate, Lincecum's struggles this season boil down to one factor: He's great with the bases empty (limiting hitters to a line of .233/.299/.416) and terrible with runners in scoring position (.300/.444/.490). If Lincecum's mechanics are getting messed up while pitching from the stretch, or if the guy with two Cy Young awards has suddenly and inexplicably started melting down in high-leverage situations, that's a major problem. It could just as easily be one of those random things that is regressing toward the norm as the season wears on. Maybe he won't ever again be the best pitcher on the planet. But you probably don't want to bet against a big second half.