Should the San Francisco Giants Be Worried About Tim Lincecum?

By Tom Froemming

Tim Lincecum followed a rough season debut with the worst performance of his career tonight. It’s just two starts, but when you look at the details, it may be time to put The Freak on red alert.

Lincecum lasted just 2.1 innings for the San Francisco Giants, surrendering six runs on eight hits and a pair of walks. He also threw two wild pitches. Lincecum was uncharacteristically hittable and something clearly wasn’t right. His pitches didn’t have the zip I’ve seen in the past, and his body language was, understandably, bad. To his credit, he did stick around in the dugout after his outing was over.

Lincecum has gone away from his slider this year after failing to find a feel for the pitch this spring. He has also lost a few miles per hour on his fastball, topping out at 93, but sitting at 89-90. The final line from his first start was ugly thanks to a pair of home runs, but tonight he just gave up hit after hit and was wild.

Rant Sports writer Bryan Lutz did a great job earlier tonight detailing why so many people have expected a drop off from Lincecum at some point, but how long will this last? How far could Lincecum fall?

The concerns about Lincecum’s size and workload could be exactly why the Giants were willing to make Matt Cain the richest right-hander ever while their two-time Cy Young Award winner is only signed through next season. It’s extremely early, but it certainly looks like Lincecum needs to make some kind of an adjustment. The 27-year-old is a renown guru in the physics of pitching and has a deep enough repertoire to find success even without his slider. I’m not going to hit the panic button yet, but he is someone I will certainly be monitoring over his next few starts.

I wouldn’t be completely shocked if, with one more poor performance, the Giants put him on the 15-day disabled list to hopefully get him right.

I watched the Giants’ crazy 17-8 loss to the Colorado Rockies tonight, and caught the early innings of another game. Here are my game notes from tonight:

-I started out the night watching the Philadelphia Phillies and Miami Marlins. I was extremely optimistic about Josh Johnson this year, and it’s looking like I was way wrong. He’s still finding himself. Johnson gave up six runs over 3.2 innings, watching his ERA balloon to 8.38. Roy Halladay improved to 2-0 after holding Miami to one run over seven innings.

Juan Pierre may be an old man in baseball terms, but he still looks like a 12-year-old. I think it’s because he wears his cap under his helmet. He has such a small head he has a hard time finding one that fits, so that‘s why he wears his cap. He stole second base in the third inning, then scored from second on a hit that bounced off the pitcher and barely even left the infield. I know everybody likes to see the sluggers, but rabbits like Pierre are really fun to watch. Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon looks like he could be a good one for years to come.

-Tim Lincecum got his haircut, but it’s still pretty long. It’s funny, I was thinking the other day about the guys who would look the most strange if they went to the clean cut New York Yankees. Post-Captain Caveman Johnny Damon and Jason Giambi are the two guys I’ve seen who had the biggest transformations. I decided Lincecum, Jayson Werth and Eric Thames would be the guys who’d look weirdest cleaned up with the Yankees.

Troy Tulowitzki has one of the more upright stances in the game, but he showed on a couple occasions he can still cover the plate, getting down and hitting a few low pitches. He chopped a two-strike pitch off Lincecum that couldn’t have been more than a few inches off the ground for an RBI ground out.

-Guillermo Mota came in after Lincecum, gave up tons of hits and worked way too slow for my liking. This game just got out of hand. It felt like it was going to go on forever.

-Just when I was about ready to give up on this game, Eric Young Jr. came in as a pinch hitter in the fifth and put down one of the best bunts you’ll ever see. With the third baseman Pablo Sandoval charging in, Young slapped a bunt perfectly in between Sandoval and Mota. Shortstop Brandon Crawford had no chance. Young then stole second despite a pitchout and ended up scoring. Later in the same inning, EY Jr. hit a stand up triple I thought was going to be an inside the parker.

-Maybe the most surprising thing about the game is the Rockies scored their 17 runs without hitting a single home run. They had three triples, two from Carlos Gonzalez, and eight doubles, three from Michael Cuddyer. Giants hurlers combined to throw 199 pitches

If you like my game notes, you can follow all of my work at Rant Sports on my profile page. I also write a pitching primer every morning. You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook and even Pinterest. I also recommend checking out all the action at Bringing Heat, Rant’s baseball blog.

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