So San Francisco Giants’ Tim Linecum joins bullpen: What’s next?


The San Francisco Giants have moved Tim Lincecum to the bullpen and that makes sense to most everyone, since Timmy has encountered technical difficulties, the like of which we have not seen since at least last season.  The question is: What’s next? 

With Yusmeiro Petit stepping up his game, the Giants have Lincecum’s rotation-spot covered, giving Giants management time to assess the situation.

Like any complex piece of machinery, Timmy needs to go into the shop occasionally to have his mechanics adjusted.

Like any complex piece of machinery, Timmy needs to go into the shop occasionally to have his mechanics adjusted.

Fortunately, the Giants employ a specialist in these matters in Dave Righetti.  I’d say it’s like having the front end of your car realigned, but that’s just a guess, because I don’t have a clue.  Then again, I don’t get paid the big bucks to solve Lincecum’s mechanical problems-Dave Righetti does.  

So when the wheels come off the bus occasionally, we send for the master.  It happened to Madison Bumgarner at the very end of the 2012 season, at the most inopportune moment, just as the Giants went into the playoffs.

Bumgarner won sixteen games during the regular season, posting a 3.37 ERA, with 191 strikeouts in 208.1 innings pitched, and then came the playoffs. His 11.25 ERA during the playoffs, before the series began, helped create the two gaping holes that the Giants had to overcome, in order to take their second title in three years.

Jul 3, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti (33) visits starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) on the mound during the fourth inning of the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

First the Giants had to overcome a two-games-to-none deficit before traveling back to Cincinnati to do what had not been done against the Reds that season-win three in a row.  Then they had to overcome a three-games-to-one deficit to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals and advance to the Show.

However, between the playoffs and the series, Righetti worked with Bumgarner, going over the minutia of the process of mechanics and delivery, and the result was that MadBum went on to pitch seven scoreless innings against the vaunted Detroit Tigers’ offense in game two of the Series.  He struck out eight and became the first pitcher to begin his world series career with fifteen consecutive scoreless innings, going back to 2010.

That’s the thing a lot of fans don’t seem to get about athletes: they are not machines. They have superior skills but those skills need to occasionally be fine-tuned. In Lincecum’s case, his stride when he releases the ball is so extreme-it always has been-that it creates a domino-like effect when he gets out of synch that causes him to lose his command on the mound.

Aug 10, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum (55) talks with pitching coach Dave Righetti (33) against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Funny, we were just talking about Madison Bumgarner struggling in the 2012 playoffs, but Timmy also had technical difficulties at the end of that same 2012 regular season, and was shunted to the bullpen for the playoffs. He was replaced by none other than Barry Zito, he of the monumental contract and equally cumbersome, unfulfilled expectations.

Not only did Zito put on the best show of his seven years with the Giants, but Lincecum was the star coming out of the bullpen.  Dave Righetti is the common factor in all of these players’ careers, which is why it makes sense to relocate Timmy to the bullpen.

There he can tinker with his mechanics when there is no game on the line because the score is already so lopsided that no serious damage can be done.  Once his mechanics get ironed out, Timmy rejoins the rotation or assumes a new role, as he did in the 2012 playoffs. As for Petit, Bruce Bochy always goes with the hot hand, so it’s up to Petit to keep his spot in the rotation.  Otherwise, he and Lincecum swap places.

Let’s face the fact that exotic vehicles require routine maintenance and quit quibbling over the details.  Get thee to the bullpen, Timmy, until the chassis is road-ready.  After all, this is late August and Showtime is on the horizon.

Pence hugging Petit after the win on 9/6/13. Photo by Denise Walos.