Tim Lincecum October 2012

No pitcher has come out of college before and jumped right onto the Major League scene as much as Tim Lincecum did by fancying a 56-29 won-loss record in his first four seasons as a pro.

Drafted tenth overall in the first round of the 2006 Amateur Draft, Lincecum came to the San Francisco Giants' pitching staff with great expectations. At the time, his $2.025 signing bonus was the highest amount the Giants had ever given a player. In just his second season in 2008, he won the NL Cy Young, and followed up with another the next year in 2009.

After these 2 amazing Cy Young seasons in ’08 and ’09, Lincecum led the Giants to their first World Series in San Francisco in 2010. At only 5’11’’, 163 Ibs, he can routinely get his fastball up to 93 MPH.

With this being his 6th year pitching in 2012, all is not well. For a guy that has usually thrown well enough to be the staff’s ace, Lincecum didn’t even make the NLDS roster as a starter because the Giants decided to use him out of the pen instead.

His 10-15 record for the regular season left a lot to be desired, and the club opted to use Barry Zito after Matt Cain, Baumgarner and Vogelsong. So how did this happen to such a prolific pitcher?

Bring it back all the way to April 6, when Linecucm started opening day for the Giants at Chase Field in Arizona. He allowed 3 runs in the first inning tothe Diamondbacks. He ended up getting the loss to start off the season 0-1 with an 8.44 ERA, unheard of for the Freak.

That was not anywhere near the end for Lincecum’ slow start. On April 11, Lincecum faced the Colorado Rockies. He lasted just 2.1 innings and allowed 6 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks, all of which were earned. The Giants ended up losing that game 17-8. Although Lincecum did not get a decision, his ERA jumped all the way up to 12.91.

Fast forward all the way to the All-Star break. Tim Lincecum has just pitched a gem against the Dodgers to win 3-0, with hurling 7 innings and allowing just four hits. Lincecum looked like his old self again. Lincecum went 7-5 with a 3.83 ERA in the second half, dropping his overall season ERA to 5.18, which wasn’t terrible considering the way he started.

The Giants still decided to use him as a reliever in the NLDS. The move paid off as he went 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA for 6.1 innings worth of work., while he allowed only 3 hits and 1 run. In game 4 Lincscum especially thrive, pitching 4.1 innings and allowing only a run to keep the Giants alive in the NLDS. The San Francisco won the game and eventually concluded a series win over the Cincinnati Reds 3 games to 2.

So what about Lincecum’s future? With this kind of talent, and only being 28, he could definitely become what he use to be, or better. In the NLDS, he proved he could come up in clutch situations. He has a proven playoff pedigree.

Before the 2012 even began, he sported a 5-1 Career Record in the postseason with a 2.28 ERA. Despite all of these numbers, Bruce Bochy announced that him, and fellow starter Barry Zito, will start in the bullpen in the NLCS, but could be back starting by game 4.

Lincecum’s contract could also be an issue for him and all San Francisco Giants fans going forawrd. In January of this year, the Giants and Lincecum couldn’t agree on a long-term deal and settled “only” on a two-year deal worth $40.5 million. Being a free agent at the end of the 2013 season, if he doesn’t step his game up next year, the Giants may not re-sign him.

Lincecum did indeed have a choice to sign a long-term deal, but declined. This could end up hurting him in the future. Who knows how he will do in 2013. If he does not succeed, there is absolutely no way the Giants will give him the amount of money he will want, so it could signal an end to his career in a San Francisco uniform.

After a horrific 2012 season, Lincecum will really have to become the ace the San Francisco fans know him to be in 2013 if he wants to stay with the franchise for the kind of dollars he is looking for.

Whether or not he even wants to remain in the Bay Area isn’t entirely certain. He may want to test free agency, which would certainly be interesting. One way or another, the 2013 season is going to decide Lincecum’s future as a Giant whether he likes it or not.


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