What is it about Brad Lincoln and his first four starts at a level?
In 2009 he opened the season in AA, posting a 4.26 ERA, a 7.6 K/9, and a 2.7 K/BB ratio in his first four starts. That’s not bad, but nowhere near as good as his performance after the first four starts. Lincoln put up a 1.61 ERA, a 7.9 K/9, and a 4.1 K/BB ratio in his final 56 innings at the AA level, seeing a huge improvement in his control.
After being promoted to AAA, Lincoln started off with a 5.76 ERA, a 5.8 K/9, and a 1.6 K/BB ratio in his first four starts at the new level. Sure enough, he improved to a 4.17 ERA, a 6.4 K/9, and a 14.5 K/BB ratio in his final 41 innings in 2009. The ERA wasn’t spectacular, but Lincoln posted a 29:2 K/BB ratio in 41 innings, which was spectacular. Counting the 2010 season at the AAA level, Lincoln has posted a 3.54 ERA at the AAA level after his first four starts, with a 6.9 K/9 and a 5.3 K/BB ratio, with 84 strikeouts and 16 walks in 109.1 innings of work.
Lincoln was promoted to the majors in June, and coming in to today’s game with the Cubs, Lincoln had made his first four starts at the major league level. The result of those first four starts was a 6.00 ERA in 24 innings of work, with an 8:8 K/BB ratio. In his fifth start today against the Cubs? Seven shutout innings, four hits allowed, one walk, and six strikeouts.
Now I’m not just cherry picking the first four starts at each level. Lincoln’s fifth start at AA saw him pitch five shutout innings, allowing three hits, one walk and eight strikeouts. His worst start at the level after the first four innings was an outing where he allowed three runs on nine hits in five innings, with a walk and three strikeouts. In his fifth start at the AAA level he allowed two runs on seven hits in six innings, with no walks and six strikeouts.
I’m also not saying that it’s a guarantee that Lincoln will continue with the success that we saw today, which was clearly his best outing, not only statistically, but passing the eye test as well. I just felt the need to point out an interesting coincidence that Lincoln’s adjustment period seems to only last four starts. Let’s hope that stays true at the major league level. I could go for more starts like we saw today.