San Francisco Giants: Is Tim Lincecum Finally Back?

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San Francisco Giants: Is Tim Lincecum Finally Back?
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Seven innings. No runs. Four hits. Two walks. Eight strikeouts. Out of 115 pitches thrown, 70 were thrown for strikes.

That sounds like a typical pre-2012 Tim Lincecum performance, reminiscent of the two-time National League Cy Young Award winner and three-time NL strikeout king.

After a horrible 2-8 start to this season with a shocking 6.07 ERA over 15 starts, Lincecum was the most befuddling case of a struggling elite starter of the season, prompting baseball writers and analysts everywhere to speculate as to what the trouble might be with Timmy.

But on Wednesday, as he helped his club pull into a first place tie with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West by tossing seven shutout innings, Lincecum's stellar performance is likely to be bigger news than the three-game sweep that has thrust San Francisco into an even stance with L.A. atop the standings.

After turning in his best start of the season, Lincecum will now be asked about how he turned things around. But the real question is: Does this mean the Freak is finally back?

The answer is...drum roll, please...it's hard to tell.

Lincecum has been so good in his first four big league seasons, that he's had too few spells in which he's struggled to project the rest of this season after his first half was so terrible.

The longest run of poor performances for Lincecum came in August 2010, when he went 0-5 with a 7.82 ERA. He snapped out of his funk once the calendar flipped over to September, when he went 5-1 with a 1.94 ERA. In October, he went 4-1 with a 2.43 ERA and recorded the win in the World Series clincher against the Texas Rangers on Nov. 1.

One start a comeback does not make, but do you think Timmy's back?

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If we are to make a prediction—based on this history—on whether the Freak is back to his normal self after Wednesday's performance, we could say that he'll have a very Lincecum-like stellar second half of 2012.

The trouble, of course, with that line of reasoning is that Lincecum's struggles of August 2010 spanned a single month, whereas his woes in 2012 thus far have spanned nearly half a season.

If there's one thing his performance did show Wednesday at AT&T Park, it's that Lincecum still has it in him to be an elite starter.

Now it's all a matter of consistency.

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