Coming into 2012, Tim Lincecum was a two-time Cy Young Award winner with three strikeout titles and four All-Star appearances. Just 27 years old, he was supposed to be in the prime of his career. But by the end of the 2012 season, the San Francisco Giants -- despite winning the World Series -- had more questions than answers when it came to figuring out what had happened to their former ace.
Lincecum's 15 losses and 5.18 ERA in 2012 were the worst in the National League. And while both were concerns, neither was as alarming as his 4.4 walks per nine innings, up from 3.6 the season before. In 2009, Lincecum's most recent Cy Young season, he set a career-best 2.7 mark. That number turned out to be an aberration, as his BB/9 rate has climbed each season since.
However, the strikeouts are still there, which makes Lincecum's struggles all the more confounding. The velocity is down, but he should still be able to pitch better than he has over his past 36 regular-season starts (5.21 ERA).
Last year, we heard a lot about adjustments that were being made, such as a mechanical glitch and a mental tweak. But none of them seemed to work, at least beyond the short term.
After watching Lincecum struggle against the Cubs on Sunday, I see some adjustments that he needs to make if he wants become an effective starter again.