Tim Lincecum found a way to contribute during the division series, surprisingly enough (exaggeration).
While he didn’t start any of the five games, he logged 6.1 innings, more than Barry Zito (2.2) and more then Ryan Vogelsong (5). The difference, however, is that Vogelsong and Zito both started while Lincecum shined in relief; a role he isn’t nearly accustomed to.
Over those 6.1 innings, Lincecum looked like the vintage Lincecum. Vintage Lincecum goes something along the lines of pitching six innings and allowing only one run. Yet, those stats don’t seem to match the level of importance as the fact that he didn’t walk a single batter during those two crucial appearances. The same guy that yielded 90 free passes during the regular season, the second most in the National League, appeared to boast refined command, and it kept him out of trouble.
Now, the big question that will assuredly draw plenty of opinions and angles, is whether his heroics out of the ‘pen will earn him a start in the championship series?
The way he pitched in the NLDS is certainly a huge factor in the Giants’ decision to start him. He said it himself, “It’s not about what you’ve done, it’s about what you’ve done lately.” At the time of saying that, wind just broke that he wouldn’t get a start in the NLDS.
Going by Lincecum’s words, he has been pretty good lately. Well, at least better than the rest of his former (temporary) fellow starting pitchers. Conceivably, his disastrous regular season seems like a distant memory. Distant memory or not, the choice ultimately boils down to whether or not the spectacular 6.1 innings he logged in games two and four, will be enough to outweigh his 5.18 regular season ERA, the worst amongst qualified starters in the N.L. But his regular season performances shouldn’t been factored into the process.
Over the past few days, he has looked like the Tim Lincecum we have all come to know very well. He’s not the same guy who would constantly be victimized due to ample amounts of free passes. He’s not the same guy whose command was appalling which resulted in 23 allowed home runs, a career-high. And he’s not the same guy who lost his keen edge which was a trademark of his. That was the regular season version of Tim Lincecum. The postseason version of Tim Lincecum has been the exact opposite of a carbon copy of the regular season edition of the two-time Cy Young award winner.
Plus, it’s not like Zito and Vogelsong fared well in games three and four when they got their shot to prove their worth. Sure, Vogelsong limited Cincinnati to just one run, but his performance wasn’t anything to write home about, logging just five innings.
Then, there’s Zito, who pitched just 2.2 innings before being yanked on Wednesday night. He didn’t surrender much (2 runs). But it was clear that a disaster was on the horizon as his walk total begin to rise. The southpaw walked four in total. Being the wise manager that he is, Bruce Bochy pulled his veteran just before the inevitable turning point. The southpaw walked four in total. Clearly, Wednesday wasn’t the Barry Zito that went 5-0 over his last five starts of the regular season. Realistically, that Zito might be gone, now that the offenses he faces are the cream of the crop rather than the bottom of the barrel pickings from the N.L West.
Primed for redemption in a starter’s role, Lincecum seems like the best option outside of Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong. Match-up wise, the pickings aren’t the best, as the Giants will either face the Cardinals or Nationals in the championship series.
The Cardinals scored the second most runs in the N.L during the regular season, while the Nationals totaled the second most home runs in the N.L. Don’t forget the fact that Lincecum allowed eight earned runs to the Nationals on July 3rd in Washington. Again, that was the regular season version of Lincecum.
Simply put, who he faces doesn’t make much of a difference either way; the Cardinals and Nationals are both elite in the offensive department and that’s not going to chance unless something really bizarre occurs. So, it’s impossible.
Rest be assured, the bullpen isn’t where Lincecum belongs in the NLCS. The postseason has revived him in very noticeable fashion, and the Giants certainly wouldn’t want to miss out on the vintage Lincecum.
That’s why they’ve got to give him a chance.