If you were a baseball fan that looked at players strictly based on their financial success, you may be shocked to find that San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum had a rather disappointing 2013 season.
While the 29-year-old, who was recently the recipient of a two-year, $35-million-dollar contract, got himself back into the national spotlight by throwing a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres, he was very inconsistent overall and finished with an ERA over 4.00 for the second straight season.
On the bright side, Lincecum settled down after his terrible month of May. In the season’s second month, Lincecum went 1-4 with a 6.37 ERA while allowing opponents to hit .294 against him. These struggles began to beg the question of whether it was time for Lincecum to move to the bullpen where he had experienced success during the 2012 postseason, but ultimately he made some adjustments and was more effective during the rest of the year.
While Lincecum looked better as the season went on, a quick examination of his month-by-month numbers makes his new contract look all the more absurd. After his disastrous May, Lincecum recovered to have a 3.60 ERA in June. Though he threw a no-hitter in July, he struggled in the aftermath and had a 4.50 ERA. He was once again effective in August with a 3.62, but was inconsistent during September en route to a 4.32 mark.
While earned run average certainly isn’t everything when it comes to pitching numbers, Lincecum is a ground ball pitcher now. He no longer throws hard, and he can’t rely on his fastball to get him strikeouts anymore. In fact, 2013 was the first time in Lincecum’s career that he averaged less than a strikeout per inning.
This change in Lincecum’s approach is evidenced by his 1.32 WHIP during 2013, which was an improvement from his awful 2012 regular season but is still a sharp increase over his 2009 Cy Young season, in which he posted a 1.05 WHIP.
Lincecum deserves a “C” rating for his 2013 performance. He was able to make some key adjustments that fixed the problems that nagged him last season. His no-hitter was also a nice moment that certainly gave him back some of his confidence. Ultimately, though, he was very inconsistent, and he didn’t do much to ease the concerns by having an up-and-down month of September.
More than anything, Lincecum needs to strive for consistency under his new deal, or else the Giants could end up looking bad for overpaying a hometown hero.