So far the 2013 season has looked similar to Tim Lincecum‘s 2012 performance. In eleven innings played, Lincecum maintains a 4.91 earned-run-average, has walked eleven and gave up six earned runs in his last outing. In 2012, Lincecum went 10-15 with an excruciating 5.18 ERA. He had less than 200 strikeouts for the first time since his rookie campaign.
Now, jumping the gun and sending him to the bullpen immediately would be a rash move, considering Lincecum is only a year removed from an All-Star season and is a two-time Cy Young award winner. In the 2012 postseason, Lincecum manned the San Francisco Giants bullpen and looked amazing.
Coming out of the bullpen, Lincecum accumulated eight strikeouts in 4.2 innings of work. He also described experiencing a rush of adrenalin hearing his name upon entering as a relief pitcher. Becoming a free agent at the end of this season, moving to a relief role and succeeding could prove extremely beneficial for the upcoming free agent, rather than risking prolonged deterioration as a starting pitcher.
Personally, and I may seem a tad far-fetched, but I think Lincecum has the potential to become the next Mariano Rivera. A move to the bullpen would put less stress on his arm and could possibly revitalize his decreasing velocity. He also maintains a set of very good pitches that can keep hitters off balanced late in games. Lincecum maintains an excellent two-seam fastball, curveball, slider and changeup–all ingredients to create a dominant closer.
What is also apparent is Lincecum being very sharp for 2-3 inning spurts, and tails off for one or two innings. Sounds like a reliever to me. With Lincecum manning the closer position, gives the Giants an opportunity to bring him in two, to three innings in advanced. It would save relief pitchers, rest arms, while providing an excellent spark out of the bullpen.
Lincecum has done it all in the starting rotation, he has the tools to continue his dominance in a different role as age is taking its toll. Lincecum will start tomorrow Apr. 12 against the Chicago Cubs, his performance could dictate his future.