Who would have thought the San Francisco Giants biggest problem this season would be their proclaimed savior, Tim Lincecum, a young man who has won the NL Cy Young the last two years?
And yet that is what it has come down to. Of course, when he first started blowing up this season, everyone panicked. I was, however, not convinced he had suddenly lost it. Maybe he had lost a little, but he was still a No.1 any team would love to have leading them....
But times have changed. Tim Lincecum looks completely lost. He's started with the set position with no one on base. He's changed his windup and where his hands start from the stretch. He's tried thinking differently. Nothing's worked. The fact that he's had to try to adjust is a bad sign-he has lost confidence. He's misplacing balls. Those fastballs that used to be swing-throughs are getting crushed. He's become a No.3 pitcher, comparable to a Jonny Sanchez. He still has dominant games, but they are few and far between. And what is worse, when the Giants have needed him most-the true mark of a great pitcher-he hasn't come through. In fact, he's imploded (Case in point: early in the year he got dominated by Ubaldo Jimenez and Jon Lester, most recently he got rocked by the Padres in the critical rubber match game).
In his last 10 games, Timmy has a 4.91 ERA. He has five quality starts - the other five have been far from quality. Against the Padres, he needed 93 pitches to get through 3 2/3 innings. He gave up six runs (five earned), eight hits, and three walks. Besides the drop-down in the quality of Lincecum's pitches, he has lost his impeccable control. He is a man hoping for a break, instead of making his own.
He does have a chance of turning it around, however. His pitches still have good movement. It seems the biggest problem with Lincy is his control. He used to paint the corners. He now falls behind 3-1 in the count, then has to throw a fastball down the middle, instead of dominating with his best pitch, his changeup.
It's a shame, because the Giants have everything that defines a postseason team. Emerging players (Andres Torres and Buster Posey), veterans seemingly past their prime who have stepped up admirably in the face of adversity (Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell), and a contending starting rotation. They have one of the best closers in baseball in Brian Wilson. The problem is they built this team around starting pitching, and when your No. 1, the man who was supposed to lead this team, not only falters but becomes a liability in crucial games, you find yourself falling away from the Padres and the Wild Card race.
Tim Lincecum has another chance to redeem himself against the contending St. Louis Cardinals in the upcoming series. This is when he needs to step up. It's now or never this season.