After four outstanding seasons capturing two straight Cy Young Awards, four All-Star Game appearances and a World Series title, San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum had a frustrating year in 2012 unable to find any consistency.
No one saw the struggles of Lincecum coming throughout the first half of the season going 3-10 with a 6.42 ERA in 18 games allowing 103 hits, 69 earned runs, 11 homers, 50 walks and 104 strikeouts as opponents batted .268 against him in 96.2 innings. He struggled big time in the month of May producing a 0-4 record with a 5.88 ERA in six starts yielding 32 hits, 23 runs, three homers, 21 walks and striking out 35 with opponents batting .252 in 33.2 innings. He earned his second win of the year on April 28 against the San Diego Padres and wouldn't win again until June 27 facing the Los Angeles Dodgers. Lincecum went 10 starts between wins, the longest stretch of his career. First innings were a struggle for Lincecum allowing a Major League high 28 runs after allowing only eight in 2011.
The Freak rebounded much better in the second half going 7-5 in 15 starts with a 3.83 ERA winning five straight starts on the road from the end of July to mid-September. Lincecum had his best month in September going 3-1 with a 4.63 ERA in six starts surrendering 28 hits, 19 runs, 22 walks and striking out 35 as the opposition batted .222 in 35 innings. As the Giants clinched the National League West it was looking like Lincecum would be one of the four starters in the postseason. He struggled horribly in his last two outings facing the Arizona Diamondbacks and Padres allowing nine hits, 12 runs, four homers, six walks and seven strikeouts producing a 5.16 ERA.
He finished the regular season with his worst record of his career going 10-15 in 33 starts producing a career worst 5.18 ERA yielding 183 hits, 107 earned runs, 23 homers, 90 walks and 190 strikeouts with opponents batting .257 off him in 186 innings.
Manager Bruce Bochy made a difficult decision sending Lincecum to the bullpen in the postseason where he relished his new role. The Giants had their secret weapon in the pen anytime one of their starters faulted during their starts. Lincecum was dominant pitching like a man possessed in five relief appearances going 1-0 with an impressive 0.69 ERA surrendering just three hits, one run and striking out 17 suffocating opponents to a .073 batting average in 13 innings. He made one start in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals going 4.2 innings allowing six hits, four runs, three walks and three strikeouts as the Giants lost 8-3. Lincecum was a team player throughout the postseason not complaining one bit and putting the team first contributing anywhere he could.
The Giants went 14-20 overall in Lincecum's starts including the postseason unable to capture the magic of previous years with him on the mound.
2013 will be a critical year for Lincecum who will be a free agent after the season and I expect him to bounce back with a monster year looking to regain his form. The city of San Francisco and Giants fans everywhere love the 28-year-old who has given his all to the franchise helping them win two World Series championships.
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