It has been said time and time again that Tim Lincecum is no longer “The Freak,” but that does not diminish just how important the now No. 4 starter is to the San Francisco Giants.
Lincecum struggled — as he usually does — against the Arizona Diamondbacks when his nemesis Paul Goldschmidt and Mark Trumbo each launched two-run homers. However, the Giants rallied in the eighth when Angel Pagan hit a three-run homer and pulled out an 8-5 victory at Chase Field on Thursday.
Despite being knocked around for four runs on eight hits, Lincecum and the team can look at the positives. Lincecum does not have the velocity on his fastball he once did, but he still has strikeout-stuff that was evident with his seven Ks. He also did not walk a batter. Another positive, and this is an odd one, is that Lincecum always struggles against Arizona, and this game was not as terrible as previous outings against the National League West division rival. Lincecum is more of a pitcher than he once was, and he has what it takes to change into more of a thinking man’s hurler.
This is why he is so important to the Giants. Lincecum was the key pitcher when the Giants won the World Series in 2010, and he was the key reliever on the team when the Giants won the 2012 World Series. No matter where he is in the starting rotation — or if he is in the bullpen — Lincecum has always taken his role in stride. Lincecum does not have the stress of being the No. 1 guy and if he continues to embrace that, he will be a major difference maker.
The Giants look like a threat because Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain and Tim Hudson lead the staff. Those three are the likely trio that will take over if the Giants make the playoffs, but Lincecum still needs to be an above-average pitcher. He needs to avoid giving up the long ball so much, and he needs to stay low in the zone. Lincecum must keep games close and give the Giants a chance to win.
If Lincecum continues to follow through on keeping his cool despite his slide, the Giants could be holding their third World Series trophy in five seasons.