Tim Lincecum's season has been one he would just as soon forget as the former All-Star has struggled to find the form that made him a two-time Cy Young winner in the National League. After years of eating up innings for the San Francisco Giants, Lineceum has managed only three quality starts in 18 outings this season (six innings pitches, three earned runs or less aTim Lincecum's season has been one he would just as soon forget, struggling to find the form that made him a two-time Cy Young winner in the National League.)
After years of eating up innings for the San Francisco Giants, Lineceum has managed only three quality starts in 18 outings this season (six innings pitches, three earned runs or less allowed). The righty has given up five earned runs or more on eight separate occasions, and his performance is in sharp contrast to the season his counterpart Matt Cain is having, who pitched a perfect game only one month ago.
One could look at the Lincecum situation and ponder over his mental state, knowing that the Giants have signed Matt Cain to a $112.5 million deal over the off-season. Lincecum was offered similar numbers, but turned it down before agreeing to a two-year extension worth $40.5 million, avoiding arbitration. With the numbers not impressing so far in 2012, one has to wonder if refusing to sign the long-term deal is beginning to weigh on his mind.
From here on out, the offers coming to Lincecum likely won't exceed the offer Cain was awarded this past January. His sub-par performance, coupled with the fact that Lincecum rejected San Francisco's initial deal, could potentially affect the 28-year-old as the season moves along on. Even though $40 million is nothing to sneeze at, leaving more money on the table has got to be of a concern for the strikeout machine, especially with the season he is currently having.
Lincecum and Cain have anchored a staff that has been among baseball's best for several years. The pressure put on the staff altogether has been intense, trying to keep their team in games while knowing their run support would would be minimal. Their innings might have contained more wear-and-tear than a guy like C.C. Sabathia for instance, who rarely sees the Yankee bats go silent.
Getting Lincecum right would go a long way in determining whether they can maintain their pace in the NL West title race. The Giants have taken advantage of the Dodgers' injury woes (the Dodgers have sent eleven players to the disabled list since early May). Bruce Bochy's club briefly took over first place before the All-Star break, but now sit a half-game back as they get ready to host the Astros on Friday.
Lincecum has to come back to the place he was a season ago, getting outs while propelling the Giants toward a second-half playoff push. There has to be hope that the All-Star break was just what the 28-year-old needed, and that the extra rest would provide some measure of springboard for the season's remaining schedule. The additional wild-card will afford some level of comfort for those in contention, and the San Francisco Giants will undoubtedly be involved with that mix.