Adam Wainwright is already dominating opposing hitters this season. He is 13-5 with a 2.11 ERA. The guy has it all. He throws a hard fastball, a big hook, and a cutter-slider hybrid that can break any bat. Throw in command of every pitch and a desire to win and it’s almost not fair. The past two years, he has been among the top pitchers in baseball and this season he has the chance to top 20 games and take home the Cy Young. You would think all he needs to do is stay focused and healthy for the rest of his career and he would be set.
But Wainwright doesn’t think like that. He’s always looking for an edge. He always wants to improve. His first trip to the All-Star Game gave him a chance to steal some pitching ideas from some of the game’s best.
And by best, I mean two-time defending Cy Young award-winner Tim Lincecum. The pitch: Lincecum’s prized changeup — a pitch dubbed ‘unstoppable’ and ‘baseball’s best pitch’ by ESPN the Magazine in February. Wainwright has been working on a change all season in hopes of matching Lincecum’s success. Last night, he learned the secret, according to B.J. Rains of Fox Sports Midwest.
Scary thought. [...]
Right before I went on the mound to warm up, I got with (Tim) Lincecum on his changeup,” Wainwright said. “I thought he was throwing it one way so I’ve been working on it all year and I couldn’t quite get it. He actually showed me the grip that he uses, and I gotta say, Dave Duncan, I may have a new pitch.
He was so excited and comfortable with the grip and how he was throwing the change that he nearly unveiled it during last night’s game only moments after learning it.
I actually thought about it,” Wainwright explained. “I almost threw it to Swisher in the very first at-bat of the inning. I almost threw it. Brian McCann actually called it and I was like ‘I don’t know.’ I like the pitch.
Instead, he’ll bring his new pitch to pitching coach extraordinaire Dave Duncan to work on and master. The rest of the league should be scared at the thought. Lincecum learned the change after winning his first Cy Young. He could throw it different ways to get sinking action sometimes and cutting movement others. Basically, his changeup is pure gold for a pitcher with a big fastball and breaking pitch.
Wainwright has both. And he has the work ethic required to really make the changeup into a reliable, even dominant pitch. Lincecum just made his climb for his third Cy Young in a row more challenging.
As for hitters, the challenge of facing Wainwright in the future with that Lincecum change is starting to look impossible.