When it comes to the post-season, Tim Lincecum reigns supreme.
While the San Francisco Giants overcame a historic two-game deficit in the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds to punch their ticket to the NL title series, it was Lincecum who proved his worth when it mattered against all doubters.
The regular season aside, the two-time Cy Young award winner is still the linchpin of the Giants organization. In two postseason appearances this year, Lincecum has accumulated six and one-third innings (1 ER). Both of these came in tight game situations, especially during Game 4‘s appearance when he struck out the hot-hitting Ryan Ludwick with runners on the corners in a 3-2 ball game to help the Giants nab their second win of the series. But for Lincecum, there was no celebration, no smile cracked. It was just another day at the ballpark.
The outing boosted his career post-season stats to an astounding 5-1 (.833) with a healthy 2.28 ERA in eight games. He’s also been a workhorse for the Giants through the playoffs, averaging 6+ innings in his outings with one complete game. Lincecum also owns his opponents in strikeouts per nine innings ratio (10.6) and strikeouts to walks ratio (5.6), making him historically good in the playoffs.
Though, before Wednesday’s outing, Lincecum and his season-long numbers have been the worst they’ve ever been. He’s pitched through a MLB-worst 15 losses and 111 runs with a career-worst 5.18 ERA. It was, put simply, Lincecum’s fall from grace, the year in which he lost his velocity, his location and his confidence.
But when it comes to the postseason, everything changes. That’s why Lincecum’s deadly. During Game 2, the 28-year-old left-hander said he came out of the bullpen throwing just two warm-up throws and pitching on adrenaline alone. That’s what makes him so good. When pitching on adrenaline, he loses sight of his inabilities and owns his natural mechanics as if it was second nature to him. For a few solid innings, he was back to his old self.
“I knew he would play a huge role in this,” manager Bruce Bochy said of Lincecum.
“You could see it in his face,” catcher Hector Sanchez said. “When he comes in, he had that determination. He’s like, ‘I got this guy. I’m going to finish this game.’ I could see it in his face.”
Lincecum’s determination pulled him back into the good graces of Giants fans and back into the limelight, a place he hasn’t been for in over a year. If he keeps his confidence up, he can be a different face of the franchise, one who comes roaring out of the bullpen as a shutdown reliever.
That’s a position that could be just as important as a full-game starter and a pivotal X-factor in the NLCS.