Tim “The Freak” Lincecum made his debut for the San Francisco Giants in 2007. Ever since then, he has been nothing short of magnificent. Until this season.
Something is not going right for Lincecum so far this year. He is 0-2 with a 10.57 ERA. That translates to 16 earned runs in 13.2 innings. He does have 16 strikeouts, so that is a sign that he has not totally lost his game, but all of those runs are problematic. It is hard to win games when you fall behind early.
To put these struggles in perspective, Lincecum has a career 3.08 ERA. He has never posted an ERA above 3.4his rookie season. He won back-to-back National League Cy Young Awards in 2008 and 2009. He has averaged over a strikeout per inning over his entire career. In summary, he has been a fabulous pitcher.
Of course, the question needs to be asked. What is going on so far this year?
Alex Pavlovic of that San Jose Mercury News mentioned a rather interesting theory. Over the winter, Lincecum lost 20 pounds to get into better shape. He is a small man to begin with, but losing 20 pounds could definitely affect his balance on the mound. With such a powerful delivery and so many moving body parts, his center of gravity might be entirely different now than it was last year. This could result in a lack of command which would then result in more hits and consequently more runs.
San Francisco Giants fans need this to be the case. If there is simply a balance issue that Lincecum will easily be able to fix, he should be back to normal very soon. Matt Cain seems to be at the top of his game right now. Therefore, the Giants would definitely have one of the most powerful duos in baseball at the top of the rotation if Lincecum is able to actually return to his former self.
There is no reason to believe that he won’t improve. He has quite a bit of experience, so it isn’t like he’s hitting the proverbial sophomore slump. In fact, if he progresses like most players do, he actually should be nearing his prime at the age of 27.
It would be surprising if Tim Lincecum doesn’t turn this season around, and, by the end of the year, he should be one of the most feared pitchers in all of baseball.