"[Tim Lincecum's] a very talented guy, of course," Nats' Skipper Jim Riggleman said when asked about the Washington Nationals' approach to facing the two-time Cy-Young Award-winning right-hander tonight, "Of course, that's the obvious. I think just try to make sure you get something in the strike zone, and not chase. That's easier said than done."
The 26-year-old right-hander, who's averaged 252 K's per season since his debut in 2007, is on pace for more of the same this season, striking out 38 (10.3 K/9) in the first five starts and 33.1 IP this season.
"He throws some really hard breaking stuff that has the appearance of a strike that's going to break out of the strike zone," Riggleman continued, "so he gets a lot of strikeouts on chase pitches like that. I think the strategy is like with most pitchers, just find something that you can handle that's not in a chase area. Obviously, nobody's really totally figured out a great plan against him, because his success speaks to that, but we've competed pretty good against him in the past, and hopefully we do the same thing tonight."
The Nats' Skipper has left-handed bats Alex Cora and Laynce Nix in the lineup against Lincecum, who's given up more extra base hits to left-handers than right-handers, but is otherwise equally brutal to face for lefties or righties. "He's tough on everybody," Riggleman said, "but I think he's particularly tough on right-handers, so we'll see if we can maybe string some hits in there with some left-handed hitters." As for why Lincecum's so tough to face, the Nationals' manager said Lincecum's delivery, "...is different, pretty much than anyone else's delivery."
"Whether his velocity and the quality of those pitches is a product of the delivery, or the delivery causes people to get out of sync with their swing, I'm not sure which way it works," Riggleman said, "But he gets good results."
Against the Nationals, the Giants' '06 1st Round pick is (1-1) in four games and 25.0 IP in which he's surrendered 24 hits, 12 runs, 10 earned and 12 walks(4.32 BB/9) while recording 25 K's (9.00 K/9), a 3.60 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and .255 BAA.