Why Lincecum should be a reliever

The two-time Cy Young winner shines when he's in a true relief ace position

Updated: June 29, 2013, 2:58 PM ET
By Dave Cameron | ESPN Insider

Tim Lincecum AP Photo/David TulisTim Lincecum struggled during the 2012 regular season, but he was electrifying in the playoffs.

The Giants have been rumored to be involved in talks with the Marlins about acquiring Ricky Nolasco to bolster their starting rotation. Given that they're rolling with rookie starter Michael Kickham -- who has allowed 10 runs in 7 2/3 innings in his first two big league starts -- in the No. 5 spot in their rotation, going after a solid innings eater like Nolasco makes a lot of sense. However, I'd like to suggest that the Giants expand their shopping list, even if they acquire Nolasco.

Their goal over the next month should be to trade for two starting pitchers. By picking up two starters, they can get Tim Lincecum's career back on track -- and bolster their playoff hopes -- by using him as a true relief ace.

The blueprint has already been laid. After struggling throughout the 2012 season, Lincecum was deployed in relief during the playoffs. The results were electrifying. His total line out of the bullpen during the playoffs: 13 innings, three hits, one run, one walk and 17 strikeouts. There's dominance, and then there was Lincecum pitching in relief. He was absurdly good.

The primary difference was the effectiveness of his changeup. Now that Lincecum doesn't throw in the high 90s anymore, he's heavily reliant on hitters chasing his changeup for strikeouts. It's a pitch he needs to be able to locate effectively in order to entice hitters to swing. According to the data from BrooksBaseball.net, during the regular season, hitters chased his changeup only 51 percent of the time, but they went after it 61 percent of the time during the postseason.


To read more about why Tim Lincecum should be used as a reliever, become an Insider today.