Everyone under the sun is trying to figure out why Tim Lincecum hasn't been pitching like the Tim Lincecum we all know so well. Ideas from skipping him in the rotation to even demoting him to the minors have been tossed about, trying anything to get him back to his old self. But the San Francisco Giants are sticking with their ace, for now.
Timmy's 2-8 record and 6.19 ERA is among the worst among qualifying starters in all of baseball. The Giants are 10 games below .500 (2-12) when he takes the mound, he's given up 4 or more runs in 10 starts this year, and batters are hitting a career-high .265 off of him. Frsutration has turned to dejection for Lincecum, who may find himself in no man's land if he has another terrible start on Friday against the A's.
Giants pitcher coach Dave Righetti noted that the team may indeed skip his next start if Friday night does not go well at the O.Co, but also knows that Timmy is doing everything he can to get things right:
"He's struggling, no doubt about it," Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti says, "and it's been going on for a while now. We've talked about things we can do, but we just don't know yet. I don't want to put negative thoughts out there now before his next start. If we decide he needs a break, he'll get one. We have no choice.
"I know he's not going to run away from it. We're not going to hide from it, either."
One person who is sick and tired of listening to all the vitriol about Lincecum his his father and life-long pitching mentor Chris Lincecum, who had this to say to USA Today about Timmy and the Giants:
"Here's a two-time Cy Young winner, a four-time All-Star, a World Series champion, and send him to the minors?" Chris Lincecum said, his voice rising. "You do that, and what you're basically telling the player is, 'We don't need you or respect you.' And this is the kid who helped bring a championship to the city of San Francisco for the first time in over 50 years?
"It's like people forget what he's done. It's like, 'What the (expletive) do I have to do. What more do you want? I gave you two Cy Youngs. I was a major contributor to the World Series. And you crucify me now...You keep saying (expletive) like this, and he'll want to go away."
Issues with his weight (to which he's gained 10 pounds pack of the 30 he lost in the offseason) and mechanics can only go so far, but Lincecum really seems to be struggling in the space between his ears while out on the mound:
"It used to be, two runners on and no outs," Lincecum says, "and it was like, 'I'll get a double play and strike out the next guy.' That was the arrogance I had, knowing I could dig deep and get out of it.
"Now I give up a couple of walks, and it's like, 'How am I going to get out of this? Is this the inning they get me?' That doubt creeps into your mind. It's almost like you're waiting for something bad to happen."
Well folks, tonight is the night. Friday's start against the A's could very well force the Giants to come up with a solution, or tell the critics to shove it if he performs well. Either way, the pressure is certainly on No. 55 tonight.
First pitch is set for 7:15 p.m. PT with coverage on NBC Bay Area, CSN California, KNBR 680 AM and 95.7 FM.