Despite his 6-12 record and 4.38 ERA, Tim Lincecum is part of the San Francisco Giants’ future and needs to be resigned. His record and ERA look ugly, but upon further examination of his every start, it’s easy to see that he should be a .500 pitcher if given proper run support and good defensive support.
Granted, Lincecum has been inconsistent this season, but 8 out of his last 10 starts have been reminiscent of the CY Young Lincecum. Over his last 10 starts dating back to June 21th against the Miami Marlins, Lincecum has pitched 65 innings and has given up 30 earned runs which equals a 4.13 ERA. This includes his implosion against the Cincinnati Reds, where he gave up 8 runs in 3.2 innings and also last night’s start against the Washington Nationals where he gave up 6 runs in 6 innings. Without those two starts, his ERA is 2.58, which is vintage Lincecum of his CY Young years. Also included in those 10 starts is his no-hitter against the San Diego Padres.
Even with the inflated numbers the last two seasons, Lincecum’s market value is going to be fairly big in the offseason. Some teams still covet him as a starter because Lincecum’s strikeout rate is still over nine per nine innings this season as well as last year when he was awful, which shows that the stuff is still there. Lincecum isn’t walking as many guys over his last ten starts as he was before; he has just 16 walks in that span. He’s making the difficult transition from being a power pitcher to a more finesse pitcher, which takes time.
On the flipside, there’s a handful of teams that see him as either a late inning reliever like the Giants used him in the 2012 postseason. According to a baseball executive, Lincecum’s market value will still be around 14-15 million dollars per season. A big reason for that is that the Giants want to keep Lincecum and sign him to a multi-year contract, and if they are unable to do that they will offer him a qualifying offer of 14 million.
As the Giants only have Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner under contract in 2014 they must make every attempt to resign the remaining 3 starters, Lincecum, Chad Gaudin and Ryan Vogelson. Lincecum should be the Giants first priority as he is a better pitcher than Gaudin or Vogelsong and will be the most coveted free agent pitcher on the Giants’ staff. Gaudin and Vogelsong are both relatively cheap and have shown that they can be effective starters. The Giants should go into next season with 6 starters just in case there’s an injury or one of the starters starts to struggle. The Giants also want to resign Hunter Pence and Javier Lopez and get a left-fielder but those things should happen after Lincecum is wrapped up.
Getting back to Lincecum, his start yesterday against the Washington Nationals was a prime example of some of the bad luck that he’s ran into all year. The Nationals had a 5-run 4th inning which opened the game up. In that inning there were 5 hits and 1 walk. Only two of the balls were hit hard as there were 2 infield hits and a bloop single that helped the Nationals rally.
Granted, Lincecum wasn’t as sharp as he has been in his last few starts, but that’s an example of the bad luck he’s pitched into. He’s had several games where he’s gotten 3 runs of support or less, he’s had poor defense behind him and he’s pitched into some bad luck. To be exact, Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner have all gotten exactly 3.46 runs of support this year, which is tied for 74th in all of baseball out of 90 qualifying pitchers. Lincecum’s a better pitcher than his numbers indicate. Will he ever be CY Young Tim? No, but he can easily be a guy that posts a 3.50 ERA or below no problem.
The Giants would be wise to resign Lincecum before his market gets to big. Lincecum has expressed his desire to return to the Giants and the Giants would love to have him back and keep their rotation intact, which has been pitching well lately. Lincecum maybe the Giants most popular pitcher of all time and if they do not resign him, it will be a public relations disaster.The Giants of course have a lot of other things to do this coming offseason in order to be competitive with the Dodgers, but if they resign Lincecum as well as Gaudin and Vogelsong that would be a good start.