However, something has been going on with Timmy recently. His record and ERA are both abysmal. His stats single him out as the worst pitcher in the rotation.
And it's not even close.
Lincecum is 2-6 with a miserable 5.83 ERA, and he should have more losses but his offense saved him a few times.
He isn't hitting 95 miles per hour like he normally does. He isn't hitting the right spots, like he normally does. He isn't getting out of jams, like he normally does. And he is giving up runs and issuing walks, which isn't what he normally does.
The bottom line is this: Lincecum isn't performing well. And even though San Francisco's ace has been horrific, they are still 31-25, just four games behind the first-place Dodgers.
Imagine where they'd be with some production from their ace.
San Francisco doesn't have much depth in the minor leagues, but they do have Eric Hacker, the sixth pitcher on San Francisco's depth chart. He made one start and gave up three runs in six innings.
What San Francisco could do is start Hacker in place of Lincecum for one or two games and see how he does. If he struggles, Lincecum would be inserted back into the rotation and Hacker would be back in Fresno.
If he pitches well, Lincecum would re-assume his spot in the rotation, and Hacker could pitch in relief. If he succeeded there as well, he could take Lincecum's place (if Lincecum continued to struggle).
Then, at the end of the season, Lincecum would be shipped elsewhere.
If the Giants know they have someone in the minors with lots of potential being held up by someone like Lincecum, they should give the minor leaguer a chance. Lincecum has been absolutely terrible this year, and San Francisco can't afford to have him struggle like this.
While Bruce Bochy would be hesitant to bench his so-called ace in the thick of a playoff race, he should seriously consider trading Lincecum in the offseason. Teams would give up a lot to bring in Lincecum, and San Francisco could fill some major needs.
Lincecum needs more chances to prove he can succeed, but if he doesn't use those chances wisely, Eric Hacker or Eric Surkamp (who will come back next year) should start. Both can strike guys out well, and they both know how to pitch.
And if Bochy has guys who know how to pitch down in Fresno, you bet he'll bring them up and give them a chance. Even if it means replacing Tim Lincecum.