Tim Lincecum: Will He Be in the San Francisco Giants Playoff Rotation?

Bruce FriedmanCorrespondent IIJuly 26, 2012

In 2010, nobody had more to do with the San Francisco Giants winning it all than Tim Lincecum.

He was brilliant in the postseason with some legendary games.

Lincecum struck out 14 against the Atlanta Braves in the division series opener, to set the pace for not only the pitching staff, but the entire team to steamroll their way through the Braves, Phillies and Rangers.

He closed things out by pitching eight great innings in the World Series clinching game.

But as everyone who is a Giants fan knows, 2012 has been a bit different for the Freak.

With his latest loss to the San Diego Padres, Tim is now 4-11 with an ERA of 5.88.

The Giants' record in his starts is an unbelievable 7-14!

His loss yesterday followed two straight well-pitched games.

But with the season starting to wind down and the Giants still clinging to the top spot in the National League West, with a two-and-a-half game lead, there is a scenario that could come to pass that's beyond anyone's wildest dreams.

Tim Lincecum, the two-time Cy Young Award winner, could be left out of the playoff rotation if the Giants get that far.

In fact, I'll make a stronger statement; if the playoffs were to begin today, Tim Lincecum WOULD NOT be in the Giants playoff rotation, period.

How could he be?

All season long the Giants brass has been doing everything possible, trying to get Timmy right. Their success has been mixed at best.

While he appears to be throwing better than he was earlier in the season, he seems to take a couple of steps forward and then a couple of steps back.

And if this is still going on at the end of the season and the Giants make the playoffs, they will be unable to trust him in a playoff situation.

So if you assume that Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong and Madison Bumgarner continue to give the Giants great starts and that Barry Zito continues to be pretty darn good for the most part, how could Lincecum be one of their three or four starters in the playoffs?

I can understand using regular season games to get Tim on track, but it's a whole new ballgame in the playoffs. There is no tomorrow. Risks need to be minimized. And having Timmy as a Giants starter would be a huge risk at this point in time.

My guess is if that situation does present itself, Lincecum would be used as a reliever, but who knows? It could be a very similar situation to Zito's in 2010, when he was left completely off the playoff roster.

Now I know there are still 64 games left, so that decision is still a couple of months off. And hey, maybe the Giants won't even make the playoffs.

Like all Giants fans, I'm hoping that Timmy gets himself right and becomes the Freak of old.

But if he doesn't and the Giants do make the postseason, Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean may be forced to make the hardest decision of their careers. It will make the regular season stuff with Lincecum look like child's play.


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