Here’s a fun thing: Tim Lincecum is attempting another comeback to baseball. This is notable because the last one didn’t go so well. He posted an ERA above 9.00 in the Los Angeles Angels uniform you see above, and is close to a decade removed from his Cy Young years. But there’s a difference now! See if you can spot it. No, it’s not the hair.
FOR RELEASE:— KyleB @ Driveline (@drivelinebases) December 19, 2017
Yes, this is Tim Lincecum at @DrivelineBB.
Yes, Adam Ottavino took the picture while training here.
Yes, Tim will throw for teams at a showcase in the near future.
No, I have no other information for you.
Send all communication to firstname.lastname@example.org. pic.twitter.com/0N0cXHVUq8
Yup, Lincecum is jacked now. For a pitcher who relied heavily on a high-torque delivery placing incredible strain on his slight frame, this is the type of physique we should have expected from him all along.
The important update: Lincecum will hold a showcase for MLB teams on February 15 at Driveline Baseball in Seattle.
Will it work? Who knows. But I’d like to see the Tigers take that risk.
It’s not reasonable to expect the Tim Lincecum from yesteryear. He made four consecutive NL All-Star teams from 2008 to 2011, posting a 2.81 ERA while leading the league in strikeouts three times. He won back-to-back Cy Youngs in 2008 and 2009, and had the worst nicknames ever. Big Time Timmy Jim was, dare we say, on a Hall of Fame track.
That guy is gone. However, the Lincecum that we saw from 2012 to 2015 wasn’t so bad. His command failed him, but he still struck out nearly a batter per inning while posting a 4.08 ERA in 113 appearances. He still managed 150-plus innings in three of those four seasons, and flirted with the 200 inning barrier in 2012 and 2013. His ERA wasn’t great, but he still produced 3.2 fWAR, most of which came in 2012 and 2013.
There’s little downside to giving Lincecum a shot
The Tigers aren’t going anywhere in 2018. Their pitching staff will likely be projected as one of the worst in baseball, and many of their top prospects are still a year or two away from pitching meaningful innings at the big league level. The Tigers need length from their starting pitchers in order to save a bullpen that will likely be one of the most overworked units in baseball.
Frankly, I can’t promise that Lincecum would provide that length. He hasn’t thrown more than 100 innings since 2014, and was a replacement level pitcher that year. His 2016 season with the Angels was seven shades of awful, and he didn’t pitch at any level in 2017. Now entering his age-34 season, he doesn’t even offer the upside of many of the other pitchers on the free agent market. Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman provide similar risk, but are a few years younger. Derek Holland and Travis Wood are left-handed.
But dammit if this whole Lincecum this isn’t more intriguing.
Cashner was once one of the hottest commodities in baseball, but injuries have largely sapped the incredible natural talent that he once had. Tillman was the pseudo-ace of some Baltimore Orioles teams that were a lot better than they had business being. Neither of them really moves the needle for a fanbase looking for something to latch onto. We can only watch so many Instagram training videos before remembering that the 2018 season is probably going to suck pretty hard.
Signing Lincecum might not make 2018 any better. If his last season in the bigs is any indication, he might make it a little worse. But for however long he is here, he will certainly make me more interested in what the team is doing. I’m not one for feelingsball, but with little separating the available options at the bottom of the starting pitcher scrapheap, I wouldn’t mind seeing the team opt for a bit of fan service.
And hey, maybe he pitches well and nets them a prospect at the deadline.