RHP TIM LINCECUM
“The Freak” has been in a year-long funk, but he presents an interesting dilemma: should he right himself, just how good can the Giants be?
With 16-game winners Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner expected to head the rotation in the postseason, San Francisco figures to be in good shape. It has a decent offense, too, with MVP candidate Buster Posey leading the way.
But if Lincecum finds the form, or even something close to it, that made him the scourge of the NL in winning back-to-back Cy Youngs in 2008 and ’09, the Giants might be looking at their second title in three seasons.
The slender right-hander went just 10-15 this season, posting a career-worst 5.18 ERA in the process. But he hasn’t lost everything, as 190 strikeouts in 186 innings will attest.
He did win his first three starts in September, before taking a loss and a no-decision to close out the regular season. He also has some postseason “cred,” having gone 4-1 and registering a 2.43 ERA in helping San Francisco to that championship in 2010.
Also, he has yet to face Cincinnati this season. So, at least in this best-of-five Divisional Series set to start Saturday, he could catch the Reds by surprise, or keep them off-balance … or regain some of his former self.
Lincecum is not scheduled to pitch until Game 3, which will be played in Cincinnati. No matter where the series stands at that point, his appearance then could be crucial in determining just how far the Giants go.