It still is early May. There is still a lot of time left in the season. But the Giants are having a hard time competing in games that are started by Jake Peavy and Matt Cain. So does that open the door for Tim Lincecum to return?
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The Giants have no choice but to begin looking at their options for at least one of those spots. It is passable for a playoff team to have a fourth or fifth starter who end up with a sub-.500 record. But when neither one of them is even giving the manager a chance to get to the bullpen with a decent shot, it puts a lot more pressure on the other three guys. And it takes the team out of its groove.
This deficiency in the rotation could lead to a Chris Heston promotion (he’s making his third appearance, second start tonight for Sacramento and has a 2.25 ERA in 8 innings). It could also lead to a return of “the Freak”, or a combination of the two.
Going into the season, it was set up that Heston would take over the role left behind when Yusmeiro Petit left for the Washington Nationals. It was a role that Lincecum seemed to be perfect for, but not at the difference in price between what he might command, and what Heston would for sure be making.
Heston looked as though his experience as a starter, with its routine, was better suited for him. He should be groomed as a starter moving forward, or you risk stunting his growth.
As for Lincecum, his focus has always been on staying in the rotation. So as it turns out, the Giants have an opportunity to bring back a pitcher who is hungry to show that his body is rehabilitated, and dependable again. Reports are that he is hitting 92 on the gun.
It would come at the expense of one or two veterans who have given the team some high quality starts. And in Cain’s case, an amazing career. But maybe Cain can move into the sixth starter role since his limit of effectiveness seems to be 3-4 innings anyway. Having Cain in that role right now doesn’t seem half bad.
But this article is about Lincecum. Is he ready? There are plenty of teams who would like to find out on Friday at his showcase. As mentioned in a tweet by Jon Heyman:
The showcase, which was originally scheduled for February and will take place at the Giants Spring Training facility:
But the real selling point that the Giants have is a possible spot in the starting rotation on a team that will be competing for a playoff spot. And it is also the only one he knows.
If Lincecum were to return to any semblance of the pitcher he was a few years back, his story would be right up there with Ryan Vogelsong‘s amazing return. The Giants always find a way to make life even better than something scripted. So why stop now?