Wachter: Could Giants’ use of Lincecum inspire a super reliever experiment?

From SABR member Doug Wachter at The Hardball Times on October 30, 2012:

A month ago, you would have been forgiven for calling this a lost season for Tim Lincecum. Ever since his two consecutive Cy Young seasons, Lincecum has been trending in all sorts of bad directions, and his difficulties came to a head in 2012. His fastball velocity has gradually decreased since he broke into the league. Over the past couple seasons, Lincecum had offset his declining stuff with an ever-increasing understanding of the art of pitching, trading the absolutely ridiculous strikeout totals of his first two seasons for a combined 451 strikeouts, which as absurd as it might sound for Lincecum was just pretty good (he had 526 K’s in his first two full seasons).

In 2012, however, things really fell apart. Lincecum pitched to an ugly 6.42 ERA in the first half, at times looking completely lost. A second half in the high threes dropped his season total to 5.18, a far cry from the Timmy of old. While the underlying numbers show that luck may have played some factor, for the most part he seems to have gotten what he deserved. Lincecum’s troubles were some of the worst a player can have; at least if a team can diagnose an injury or mechanical trouble, they can take steps to fix it.

In Lincecum’s case, no (publicly disclosed, at least) issue was found, so there really wasn’t much the team could do. One suggestion, to stick him in the bullpen, was widely met with criticism, especially early in the season. Most believed that if the Giants were going to win their second championship in three years, Lincecum would have to be a key cog in the pitching staff.

Read the full article here: http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/could-giants-playoff-use-of-lincecum-inspire-a-super-reliever-experiment/

Originally published: October 30, 2012. Last Updated: October 30, 2012.