After watching the San Francisco Giants lose yet another start by their "ace" Tim Lincecum, I came to a startling revelation. One that I would expect the Giants' brass will come to sooner rather than later. It's time to remove Timmy from the Giants' starting rotation. He's hurting the team.
Now Lincecum has had his ups and downs in his Giants career, especially in the past three seasons. After a solid rookie year in 2007 and Cy Young seasons in 2008 and 2009, Tim has had some issues. Granted, 2010 turned out to be a magical season for Tim and the Giants, culminating in the team's first world championship in San Francisco, but who can forget Tim's terrible August that season?
Last year Lincecum pitched well, but had rough months in April, June and an up and down September.
Surely there were signs of possible trouble ahead. But nobody saw what was coming in the 2012 season.
With yesterday's loss to the Texas Rangers, Lincecum has a record of 2-7 with an ERA of an even 6.00. While Tim has struck out 77 batters in 72 innings, he has also walked 39. His WHIP is an inflated 1.58. His average against is .265. Contrast that WHIP and average against with career numbers of 1.21 and .226, respectively.
But here is a statistic that is amazing. According to Andrew Baggarly via Twitter, out of 62 pitchers in the majors who have made 10 or more starts, only Mike Minor has a higher ERA than Tim Lincecum.
Big Time Timmy Jim has gone from one of the game's greatest pitchers to one of its worst in 2012.
There is a standard of pitching excellence that has been established in San Francisco in recent years, and a large part of that is due to Lincecum being the ace of the rotation. But that was the old Tim Lincecum. The 2012 version is hurting the Giants and hurting them badly.
The Giants have now lost eight consecutive Lincecum starts and 11-of-13 overall. In those 11 losses, Timmy only pitched well once: May 30th against the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he gave up one earned run in seven innings. But he did walk five in that game, so the game was not without "warts" as Giants GM Brian Sabean would say.
In fact, in one of Lincecum's two wins, he only went five innings, walking five. So the only outstanding performance for Timmy in 2012 was his eight-inning win against the San Diego Padres on April 28th (his last victory and the last Lincecum start the Giants won). One great start so far and it's June 11th!
Something has to give. And what has to give is Lincecum's spot in the rotation. If it was any other pitcher besides Lincecum he would have been out of the rotation a couple of weeks ago.
The solution? Send Timmy to the minors for two or three starts. Allow him to clear his head a bit. Forget about the major league pressure to win. And send his dad Chris there with him, so he can work with Timmy on an everyday basis. Chris can break down Tim's delivery and help him figure out what's going wrong. He can also do some psychological work on his son as well, to find out what's ailing him.
Another plus for Tim going to Fresno, is that the catcher for the Grizzlies is Eli Whiteside, who knows Lincecum well. Whiteside has been with Tim from just about the beginning. He may be able to spot some of the reasons why Lincecum is struggling.
There is precedence for this type of move. The great Roy Halladay came up to the majors in 1998, but spent part of 2000 and 2001 in the minor leagues. He hasn't been bad since coming back to the majors, and is on his way to a Hall of Fame career.
Look, Tim Lincecum is a great pitcher. When he's at his best he is just about unhittable. But he has been anything but that this season. Granted, in most of the losses, he has suffered from one or two bad innings and then been lights out after that. Unfortunately, if you give up two or three or four runs in an inning, they still count on the scoreboard. And the last eight times Tim Lincecum has taken the mound, the Giants have lost. In many of those games, it wasn't even close, like yesterday's 5-0 defeat.
Give Tim a break. Send him to the minors for a couple weeks. Let him work things out where they won't cost the Giants wins. Bring up Eric Hacker, who is 9-2 for the Fresno Grizzlies with an ERA of 3.27. Can it be any worse then having Lincecum pitching every fifth day right now?
The Giants are losing Lincecum's starts anyway. Hopefully with some time to work things out and no added pressure, the Giants will have the services of the REAL Tim Lincecum in the second half of the season. Because without him they could be in real trouble.