Bruce Bochy’s announcement that Tim Lincecum is good to go in Game Three of the World Series, Friday night, when the San Francisco Giants meet the Kansas City Royals, means that the manager will have far greater flexibility, when it comes to maneuvering that sixth-inning mine-field, that is potentially present anytime Madison Bumgarner is not the starting pitcher.
With Yusmeiro Petit having been locked into the long-relief slot, and unavailable to help bridge the gap between starter and bullpen, for just one inning, Bochy was forced to use Hunter Strickland in an unfamiliar role in Game Two, and it may have contributed to the fireworks. At that point in the game, Lincecum was still an unknown commodity, in that he had languished on the bench throughout the playoffs.
Now, with Timmy’s flawless appearance in Wednesday night’s game, and with his back issue having settled down, Bochy can use Petit, if he deems that best, leaving Lincecum for long-relief work, the following day, or even throw Lincecum into that unsettled sixth-inning minefield.
With Timmy now available, Bochy has a better chance of getting through that sixth-inning mine-field.
With the two teams so evenly matched, the bullpens have become the focal point of the media magnifying glass.
When Strickland not only gave up the big double, followed by the home run, but had the emotional flare-up as well, the advantage in bullpens seemed to shift dramatically in favor of the Royals. That changed just as rapidly, when Lincecum delivered in a relief role, just as he did so effectively in the 2012 Playoffs.
Tim Lincecum is one of those individuals who can handle the pressure of the big stage; he thrives on it. We have seen too many remarkable instances of big-game pitchers, struggling in the 2014 postseason, to ignore the fact that Timmy does not wilt, under the halogen lights.
Giving Bruce Bochy a quality Tim Lincecum, not only gives him this added weapon in his arsenal, but the added threat of using Petit in an expanded role. Petit has done everything the Giants have asked of him this season, and done it well.
This new development gives the San Francisco Giants an edge in the saga of the battling bullpens. Look for Bochy to capitalize on his dual-pronged, land-mine-detecting, sixth-inning experts, should they be needed.
On the other hand, Tim Hudson has the biggest say of all, in the World Series for the first time in his illustrious career. He just may decide to skip the sixth-inning drama and pitch seven complete innings, or more, and put the whole matter aside until Game Four, on Saturday night.
And put the pressure on Ryan Vogelsong to do the same, Saturday night.