Tim Lincecum‘s season has been as up and down as they come. We’ve enjoyed and marvelled at the highs, such as his no-hitter and we’ve despaired upon the lows, such as his last start in which he got pounded for six runs in what was the shortest start of his career. It’s been a love-hate, bittersweet journey, which may come to end prior to his next start. While Bruce Bochy hasn’t given anything away, he has admitted that Lincecum’s spot in the rotation is under consideration.
As painful to consider as it is, eventually one must realise that long reliever Yusmeiro Petit may be the best option for the team moving forward. This theory was only further reinforced on Saturday, during Lincecum’s last start. After Timmy struggled through two innings of six run ball, Petit came into the game and shut down the red hot Nationals offense for several frames. A rather impressive audition, I must admit.
Pitching from the bullpen is much easier, and Lincecum does have the stuff to thrive, but with the San Francisco Giants in the middle of a playoff surge maybe Petit is the best option. Yusmeiro doesn’t have nasty stuff and even lacks a go-to pitch, he is, however, solid with his location, command and velocity. When at his best he is very deceptive and has the ability to shut down opponents.
The month of August splits confirm the notion, too. This month Petit has hurled eight perfect innings, walking none whilst striking out 12. Lincecum on the other hand owns an ERA of 7.94, while walking 12 and striking out only 14 over 17 frames. All signs point against Lincecum right now, and it may be difficult for Bochy to overlook them.
History works against the Freak, too. During the 2012, World Series winning campaign, Lincecum was moved into the bullpen where he helped the Giants win baseball’s biggest prize. Furthermore, last season, when Ryan Vogelsong was injured, Petit stepped into the rotation and thrived. His magnificent starts were eptimised by his almost perfect game. Also, on a less serious note – Petit’s facial hair is much better than the Freaks. It may be a welcome change to see a strong beard in the rotation, as oppose to the kind-of creepy mustache Lincecum had.
There are some factors which may work towards keeping Lincecum in the rotation, though. First and foremostly, his huge salary. Given that Timmy is earning $35 million over this year and next, the Giants may opt to give him another chance to value his deal, because otherwise, he becomes a very expensive reliever. Secondly, Petit’s splits as a starter this season aren’t very impressive, whatsoever.
In 31 innings as a starter, Petit has logged a poor 6.32 ERA with an opponent batting average of .271. It’s a fact that pitching from the bullpen is much easier – so, does Petit really have the potential to save the Giants’ rotation? Overall, I’m not sure, to be honest. While that is a pretty awful conclusion, there is no clear answer. There are huge positives and negatives to each side. Let’s just be thankful Bochy has to make the decision.