Leading Off

Leading Off: Lincecum still capable of greatness

In Tim Lincecum’s first start for the Giants today since throwing the second no-hitter of his career last week, the 30-year-old right-hander will:

A.) Last less than four innings – as he did in his start following his first no-hitter.

B.) Last more than five innings but lose.

C.) Make a quality start that earns him a victory.

D.) Throw his third no-hitter or first perfect game.

You might as well pin all the answers to a wall and throw a dart, because Lincecum is capable of each every time he pitches. Like a white marble ball bouncing on a roulette wheel, the Giants just don’t know what kind of numbers Lincecum will put up in each of his starts.

Last July he looked like the overpowering pitcher that won two Cy Young Awards, striking out a season-high 13 en route to the first no-hitter of his career in San Diego. In his next start, Lincecum lasted 32/3 innings, allowing eight earned runs in a loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

Mostly, Lincecum has been average – no longer the long-haired “Freak” twirling like a top on the rubber, blowing 98 mph pitches past batters. In his first three seasons, winning back-to-back Cy Youngs in 2008 and 2009, Lincecum was 40-17 with a 2.90 ERA, striking out 676 (225 per season).

In the past 41/2 seasons, Lincecum is 55-58 with a 3.93 ERA, striking out 917 (average of 183 per season).

But what Lincecum has lost in velocity and command, he’s made up for in sneaky off-speed pitches that hitters pound into the ground for routine outs. Unfortunately for the Giants, the results are inconsistent.

Lincecum may no longer be a great pitcher, but he’s still capable of greatness.

– Victor Contreras


Today’s poll

What will Tim Lincecum accomplish next ?

• Win a third Cy Young Award

• Throw a third no-hitter

• Win 20 games

• None of the above

Vote above, or go to sacbee.com/sports

Weekend poll results

What do you think about the Kings’ selection of Nik Stauskas ?

• It’s a great pick; he can really shoot: 51%

• It’s OK, but they could have done better: 32%

• Hate it; they had more pressing needs: 17%

Total votes: 319

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