Tim Lincecum’s struggles these past two seasons have been well-documented. It’s led some to question whether he has what it takes to be a starting pitcher any longer. And even Lincecum himself has given thought to a permanent move to the bullpen. Someday. Just not anytime soon.
“I’m always open. It’s just, right now I don’t want to be open to it,” said Lincecum, adding he is committed to remaining a starter for the rest of this season. “I’m sure if my career takes that turn, I’m definitely open to changes, especially if it’s beneficial to the team I’m playing for.” [...]
“I don’t know when the time might be right, but I’ve closed in college and the Cape,” said Lincecum, who was a standout at the University of Washington. “Growing up, basically, I wasn’t a starter. I was a pitcher. I pitched whenever.”
The issue had extra relevance on Sunday. With typical long reliever Chad Gaudin getting the spot start in place of Ryan Vogelsong against the Cardinals, Lincecum was in the bullpen as an emergency option.
And, as a source tells Baggarly, if the Giants could, they’d make a move to the bullpen as a late-game option permanent “in a heartbeat.” This seems like a good time to remind you that Lincecum has won two Cy Youngs as a starter.
The only thing throwing a wrench into that plan, however, is a lack of arms. The Giants already are without Vogelsong in the rotation until around the all-star break and don’t have anybody else to fill Lincecum’s spot capably. The Giants would likely have to pull off a trade first. So, for now, it appears you’ll continue to see Lincecum stinking it up every fifth game as a starter for the rest of the season.
But Lincecum is a free agent after this season, and it’s entirely possible his best offer could be from a team that wants to use him as a closer. Lincecum was projected by scouts to be a reliever before he made his jump to the majors and has lots of prior experience pitching in relief. Of course there was the World Series run last year in which he gave up just one run with 17 K’s in 13 innings out of the bullpen.