Commentary

Tim Lincecum's unstoppable pitch

The secret to the Cy Young winner's success is not his 98 mph fastball

Originally Published: February 15, 2010
By Jason Catania | ESPN The Magazine
Tim LincecumLisa Blumenfeld/Getty ImagesThe newly wealthy Lincecum pitched his way to a second consecutive Cy Young award last year.

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The setup

Tim Lincecum's fastball is overrated.

Got your attention, huh?

Well, it's true. Lincecum's fastball is overrated ... compared to his best pitch. That just blew your mind again, didn't it? A heater that sits in the mid-90s and more than occasionally touches 98 mph tends to get noticed, all the more so when coming out of the right hand of a 5-foot-11, 170-pound, mop-topped 25-year-old. Still, as surprisingly explosive as his fastball is, it's not his best pitch. Not even close. Now, none of this is to say that Lincecum's fastball isn't worthy of whatever adjectives you feel best convey its awesomeness; it's just that the Giants ace's most effective offering, the one that deserves the glory, the one that is most responsible for two straight Cy Youngs and a fat new contract, the one that is the best pitch in baseball -- his changeup -- has been overlooked like a salad at Rex Ryan's house. Until now.