When Tim Lincecum was making his bid to return to the Major Leagues, the San Francisco Giants made it clear that they had some interest in bringing back their two-time Cy Young award winner. But only as a reliever. Lincecum, however, wanted to start.
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The Freak got his wish. He signed with the Los Angeles Angels, and today he made a successful debut with his new team, tossing six innings of one-run ball. And what do you know, he did right across the bay from San Francisco, mowing down the Oakland A’s in the O.Co Coliseum.
Did the Giants make a mistake by not bringing him back?
Anyone who might be wondering that after Saturday’s performance needs to recognize that the lineup he faced wasn’t much better than what he encountered during his brief stint in Triple-A earlier this month. Danny Valencia, Jed Lowrie and Khris Davis could start for a lot of other teams, while Stephen Vogt, Billy Burns and Coco Crisp are decent players, as well.
But this was not the Toronto Blue Jays we’re talking about. Lincecum faired well against one of the weakest lineups in the league. He can’t be penalized for that, but it’s just not a true test of whether he will again be a productive starting pitcher in this league.
Also, his counterpart on the mound for the A’s was a relative no-name. In fact, in 172 professional appearances, only only 11 of which have been at the Major League level, Saturday marked Andrew Triggs’ second career start. So, the pressure wasn’t exactly on Lincecum to outduel an ace.
But, while there are reasons to temper one’s enthusiasm for his outing—and, likewise, temper one’s disappointment in the Giants for not re-signing him, this was a good first step toward proving he can still thrive as a Major League starter.
And if he continues to pitch well in his next few starts, then, hmmm…
Consider this: the Angels aren’t contending for the postseason this year, so holding onto Lincecum won’t do them much good, other than help fill innings for their injury-plagued starting rotation; Matt Cain is on the disabled list for the second time with a strained hamstring, which might ominously mean the injury could linger for a while; Jake Peavy has been pitching well lately, but he is a bit unreliable these days; the Giants are clearly contenders this year; and, as the stretch run nears, they might just be in the market for a starting pitcher with playoff experience.
Could there be a match here?