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Entries in San Francisco Giants (47)


Petit Nearly Perfect vs. D-Backs

Giants starter Yusmeiro Petit just missed becoming the 24th pitcher in major league history to throw a perfect game last night, as Eric Chavez's two-out, two-strike looper to right field in the ninth inning dropped mere inches in front of a sprawling Hunter Pence. Instead, Petit joined a lonely hearts club of hurlers -- Yu Darvish, Armando Galarraga, Mike Mussina and Dave Stieb among them -- who lost their bid for perfection with two outs in the ninth frame.

Petit, 28, might have gone down as the most improbable pitcher to sit down 27 consecutive batters, aside from maybe Philip Humber. Once a Mets prospect who puzzled talent evaluators by dominating minor league hitters with dime-a-dozen stuff, the squat righty has been battered for a five-plus ERA in the majors while passing through Florida, Arizona, Seattle and now San Francisco. Any team could have grabbed him as recently as late July, when the Giants designated him for assignment to make room on the roster for Guillermo Moscoso.

How did Petit go from disposable to nearly immortal (for one night, anyway)? Here's a breakdown of his nearly perfect outing.

  • Petit was content to paint the outside corner against the D-Backs, throwing 67 of his 95 total pitches (70.5 percent) away to Arizona's batters. He stretched the strike zone horizontally, getting hitters to chase 45 percent of his pitches thrown away outside of the strike zone. Overall, MLB hitters have chased about 24 percent of pitches thrown away this season.

Petit's pitch location vs. Arizona's lefty hitters, 9-6-13 


Petit's pitch location vs. Arizona's righty hitters, 9-6-13 

  • He averaged a modest 88.5 MPH with his fastball, reaching 90 on the radar gun just seven times. Petit threw a nearly equal amount of "heaters" and off-speed stuff: 52% fastballs, 21% curveballs, 11 percent sliders, nine percent cutters, and seven percent changeups.
  • Petit's curveball was his main strikeout pitch, as he got Aaron Hill, Martin Prado and Chris Owings to swing and miss at the sweeping, mid-to-high 70s offering. D-Backs hitters whiffed on eight of the 10 Petit curveballs that they swung at.
  • Petit threw a first-pitch strike to 21 of the 28 batters that he faced (75%). He fell behind in the count in just five of those 28 plate appearances.

The Freak Getting Hitters to Chase 

While the San Francisco Giants won't have the chance to defend their World Series title this October, Tim Lincecum has plenty riding on the rest of the 2013 season.

The 29-year-old righty hits the free agent market this winter sporting two Cy Young Awards but also a combined 73 ERA+ over the 2012-13 seasons, worst among starting pitchers throwing at least 300 innings over that time frame. From 2007-11, by contrast, he had a 137 ERA+.  (An average ERA+ is 100, with a score over 100 indicating that a pitcher has performed better than the average, and a score below 100 pointing to below-average performance.) 

Lincecum's core stats -- strikeouts, walks, grounders -- suggest he deserves better than the middling 4.18 ERA that he carries into his Wednesday start against the Nationals as indicated by his fielding-independent ERA of 3.49 (FIP determines the quality of a pitcher's performance by eliminating plate appearance outcomes that involve defensive play. The basic pitcher-dependent outcomes are home runs, walks and strikeouts.). What's especially promising for Lincecum's 2014 free-agent prospects is how he has dramatically lowered his walk rate over the course of the season. 

Lincecum's declining walk rate

Lincecum issued a free pass to 13.2% of batters faced in April, well north of the 7.4% average for National League starting pitchers.

That walk rate has declined each month since then, however: 

  • 8.9% of batters faced in May
  • 7.9% in June
  • Just 6.6% in July-August. 

The Freak didn't suddenly start firing more pitches over the plate -- his percentage of pitches thrown within the strike zone has hovered around 50% most of the season, and is actually lower since the beginning of July (45%). Rather, Lincecum has induced more hitters to chase his stuff off the plate.

Check out his opponent chase rate by pitch location:





Lincecum got hitters to expand their strike zones just 21.4% of the time in April, a far cry from the 27% MLB average. His chase rate has steadily climbed since then: 24.6% in May, 25.9% in June, and 32% in July-August. With that, his batting average against has benefited dramatically because it's hard to get wood on pitches out of the zone. His BAA in May was .294, in June .263, in July .212, in August it's .140.

He's getting more chases with both his changeup and breaking stuff, and most of those wild swings are coming on pitches thrown at or below the knees.

In April, Lincecum had a 25.4% chase rate on pitches tossed to the lower third of the zone. That lower-third chase rate has soared: 26.8% in May, 35.3% in June, and 40.1% in July-August.

It remains to be seen as to whether his value in off-season will soar as well.


Tim Lincecum's No-Hitter Heat Map & Nine to Know

The Jeopardy answer: Not bloody likely.

The Jeopardy question: Do you think that Tim Lincecum will throw his first no-hitter in 2013?

But, the Freak as he is lovingly called by his fans (you don't want to know what he is called by his detractors) threw 148 (!) pitches at the San Diego Padres who did not hit one of them for a base hit.

He struck out 13 and walked four and hit a batter in the 9-0 victory. His 148 pitches is the second most for a no-hitter exceeded only by Arizona's Edwin Jackson's 149 against the Rays on June 25, 2010.

Hunter Pence's Great Game and Great Catch

Hunter Pence drove in five runs with a groundball, a three-run triple and his 14th home run but even without his five RBI, the Giants would have won, but Lincecum would not have a no-hitter without his great catch. 

Lincecum said, “That was really special. To be honest with you I thought that was a hit off the bat. Hunter comes flying in out of nowhere and makes the Superman catch. It was hard not to feed off the excitement that that caused.”

Pablo Sandoval makes the play

Pence's brilliant catch became the web gem of the night only after Pablo Sandoval's great play at third to end the 7th when the Panda came up huge on a grounder to third.

Nine to Know

  1. Lincecum threw 148 pitches to 32 batters 96 were for strikes with 73 swings, 29 misses.
  2. The average velocity of his pitches were 84 mph, with a peak of 91.5.
  3. Batters fouled off 30 of his pitches, took 23 called strikes, and chased 36 pitches out of the zone.
  4. Lincecum mixed his pitches throwing 61 fastballs, 36 sliders, 29 curves, and 21 changeups.
  5. He produced 13 whiffs, two line drives, six fly balls, and six grounders.
  6. Lincecum went to three balls on nine batters, walking four and whiffing two.
  7. Lincecum went to two strikes on 25 batters, walking two and whiffing 13.
  8. Lincecum's 148 pitches were the most thrown this season exceeding Clayton Kershaw's 132 against the Nationals on May 14, and the 130 thrown by Yu Darvish (5/16) and Anibal Sanchez (5/24).
  9. Lincecum's previous high pitch game was September 13, 2008 when he four-hit, you guessed it, the Padres.
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