Tim Lincecum gave up seven hits and six earned runs in 3.1 innings pitched on Sunday in Pittsburgh. Bruce Bochy and the San Francisco Giants now have some decisions to make heading into the second half the season.
After finishing the first half of the season with a rough road trip through the East Coast heat, the Giants will take their 2-7 record through their final nine games into the All-Star break thinking what could have been.
For Lincecum—just when you thought it couldn't get any worse.
Lincecum will start the second half of the season with 10 losses—the most by a Giants starting pitcher since Barry Zito went 4-12 in the first half of the 2008 season.
However, the obvious question was already answered just minutes after the Giants were blown out by the surprising Pirates.
According to Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com, Bochy said he will continue to make Lincecum a part of the starting rotation and will not skip his next start:
“No chance. We’ll throw him back out there [...]. He has to regroup and we need him," Bochy said. "He’ll be determined to turn this around.”
At this point, the Giants are hoping that a few days off for the All-Star break will give Lincecum a chance to gather himself, figure out what is wrong and start the second half of the season on a new note.
It is the only option they have right now if they are going to keep him in this starting rotation.
However, the team does have other options.
Brad Penny is a viable option for the Giants if they plan on leaning in the direction of giving Lincecum some time off.
He has pitched a total of 5.1 innings for San Francisco since the team picked him up. He has allowed just two hits in that time, and it would not hurt to give him a chance at proving he can still start in this league.
The San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman (via Twitter) even admitted to change being a good thing for Lincecum and the ballclub:
"You guys know I'm not a big lover of WAR, but even without numbers I know Gs can do better w/ any starter from Fresno replacing Lincecum."
It would have been nice for Lincecum to head into the All-Star break with a good start and have something to build on, but he is simply not at that level yet. His fastball is barely eclipsing the 90 MPH mark, and the location has not been there the entire season.
He is currently the weak link of a starting rotation that was one of the best just a few weeks ago when they swept the Los Angeles Dodgers without allowing a single run in the series.
Now, the Giants are seemingly a few starts away from benching a two-time Cy Young winner.
Bochy has given Lincecum a second chance by allowing him to appear in his next scheduled start, but realistically, seeing him regain whatever form he once had is very far off in the distance at this point.
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