Roy Halladay (21-10, 2.44) faces righty Tim Lincecum (16-10, 3.43) tomorrow night in game one of the NLCS. As far as pitching matchups go, you can’t ask for much more. Halladay was the league’s best pitcher in ’10 and Lincecum was the league’s best pitcher in 2008 and 2009.
They’ve both been pitching rather well in their last couple of outings. Lincecum threw to a 1.94 ERA over his last six starts in the regular season, striking out 52 in 41 2/3 innings and throwing to an 0.94 ratio. He made one start in the NLDS and was great, throwing a complete game, two-hit shutout while striking out 14 as San Francisco won game one 1-0.
He led the NL in strikeouts this year for the third straight season. It wasn’t really very close in ’08 or ’09. This season Halladay finished second in the league, but still struck out 12 fewer batters (219 compared to 231 for Lincecum) in 38 1/3 more innings.
Lincecum had two months of the season in which he didn’t pitch very well. He made six starts in May, going 1-2 with a 4.95 ERA and a 1.54 ratio as he walked 23 in 36 1/3 innings. August was even more miserable. Opponents hit .311 against him over his five August starts and he allowed five home runs, pitching to a 7.82 ERA with a 1.82 ratio.
Near the end of August, Bruce Bochy suggested that Lincecum’s conditioning was hampering his performance. Again, since then, Lincecum has put together six great starts to finish the regular season and one outstanding start in his first playoff appearance.
Lincecum had better results pitching on the road than he did at home this season. 9-7 with a 3.69 ERA and a 1.37 ratio at home and 7-3 with a 3.17 ERA and a 1.17 ratio on the road. For his career his numbers are very similar at home and on the road.
Lincecum made his major league debut against the Phillies on May 6, 2007. He had one start against the Phils this season, which came on April 28. He pitched very well, allowing two runs on three hits and a walk over 8 1/3 innings. Howard homered off of him in the fifth to put the Phils up 1-0. The Giants tied it in the bottom of the fifth with a run off of Hamels and added three more in the sixth to go ahead 4-1. Lincecum started the ninth with a three-run lead, but allowed a one-out walk to Victorino. Victorino would come around to score with Brian Wilson on the mound as the Phils tied the game up and then won 7-6 in extra-innings. If fear of Brian Wilson is keeping you up at night, you might want to check out the box score from the April 28 game.
Howard, Werth and Polanco are the only Phillies that are going to start game one whose career numbers against Lincecum aren’t ugly. Howard has pounded him in 19 at-bats, going 6-for-19 with three home runs and three walks. Werth is 3-for-9 with a homer. Polanco is 2-for-5. After that, things go downhill quickly. Utley 2-for-20 with a double, a home run and eight strikeouts. Rollins 3-for-18 with a double. Ibanez 1-for-10 with five strikeouts. Victorino 4-for-21. Ruiz 2-for-10.
After winning the Cy Young award in both ’08 and ’09, Lincecum isn’t going to win it this year and isn’t going to come close. Halladay looked pretty well-positioned to join him as a two-time winner.
Halladay and Lincecum are both right-handed aces, but they aren’t the same kind of pitcher. Here’s the percentage of plate appearances for the season in which batters got a walk, a hit, a hit or a walk or struck out against each of them this season:
|% BB||% H||% H or BB||% SO|
|Lincecum vs R||7.2||20.6||27.8||26.3|
|Lincecum vs L||9.6||22.5||32.2||25.3|
|Halladay vs R||3.1||21.7||24.9||24.1|
|Halladay vs L||2.9||24.9||27.8||19.9|
Lincecum struck people out, both lefties and righties, at a higher rate than Halladay.
Halladay walked dramatically fewer hitters. A right-handed hitter was more than twice as likely to draw a walk in a given plate appearance against Lincecum and a left-handed hitter more than three times as likely.
Both righties and lefties were less likely to get a hit off of Lincecum than they were to get a hit off of Halladay. However, because the advantage for Halladay in preventing walks was a lot more dramatic than Lincecum’s advantage at preventing hits, batters were still more likely to get a hit or a walk in a given plate appearance against Lincecum.
Not all hits are the same, of course. The table below shows the percentage of hits allowed this season that went for singles, total bases allowed per hit, the percentage of plate appearances that ended with an extra-base hit and the percentage of plate appearances that ended with a home run.
|% of H 1B||TB per H||% of PA XBH||% of PA HR|
|Lincecum vs R||76.7||1.38||4.8||1.4|
|Lincecum vs L||68.5||1.60||7.1||2.5|
|Halladay vs R||71.4||1.51||6.2||2.3|
|Halladay vs L||68.9||1.54||7.7||2.5|
Again, the top chart showed that Lincecum allowed fewer hits than Halladay. The chart above suggests the hits he allowed were better, especially against right-handed batters. 76.7% of the hits that Lincecum allowed to righties were singles and the average hit he allowed went for just 1.38 bases. Only 71.4% of the hits that Halladay allowed went for singles and hits by righties averaged 1.51 bases. Righties were a lot more likely to homer off of Halladay or get an extra-base hit of any kind.
Lefties were also more likely to homer off of Halladay or get an extra-base hit (Halladay’s 2.5 for homers is worse than Lincecum’s), although the gap isn’t as dramatic. Of the hits they allowed to left-handed batters, Halladay actually had a higher percentage of the hits go as singles and allowed fewer total bases per hit.
Halladay, you may have heard, is also pitching well these days. He threw a two-hit shutout against the Nationals in his final start of the regular season. In his most recent outing he became the first player since 1956 to throw a no-hitter in post-season play.
He made one start against San Francisco this season and things didn’t go very well. He allowed five runs on ten hits over seven innings. DeRosa put the Giants on top with a two-run single in the bottom of the first. John Bowker and Eli Whiteside doubled back-to-back in the second, extending the lead to 3-0. Sandoval started the sixth with a double and Huff drove him in to make it 4-1. Whiteside homered off of Halladay in the seventh to make it 5-1, which is how it ended.
Thanks to their days in the AL, Huff is the current Giant who has seen Halladay the most. 17-for-66 with a double and a meager 255/315/273 line for Huff. Uribe, Ross and Burrell have also seen him a lot, although not as much as Huff. Burrell is 6-for-18 with six singles, but Uribe and Ross have both struggled. Uribe 4-for-18 with a double, Ross 3-for-16 with three singles. Torres is 1-for-7, Sandoval 2-for-4 with a double and Sanchez and Fontenot are both 1-for-3. He has never faced Posey.