Tim Lincecum has clearly had a rough season, but he may be turning things around. Lincecum was dominant in his first start of the second half by going eight scoreless innings to go with 11 strikeouts against the Houston Astros in a no-decision.
Lincecum looked like his dominant self against the Astros. Yes, it was against the Astros who are no "Murderer's Row," but it's still a solid start to the second half.
So, what sparked Lincecum back to his regular self?
A big reality check for the right-hander may have been exactly what he needed. Lincecum had to sit at home during the All-Star game, while fellow teammates dominated. Matt Cain was phenomenal in his start for the NL and Melky Cabrera was named MVP of the game, after going 2-for-3 with a homer, two RBI and two runs scored. It could not have been easy to watch his teammates thrive while commentators continuously brought up his struggles.
Defying the odds is exactly what Lincecum has done his whole career. He defied his small stature and unconventional wind-up to be a two-time Cy Young winner. Now it's time for Lincecum to defy the odds of turning around a historically bad first half, and be his old self for the Giants.
Even with a 3-10 record and a 5.93 ERA, Lincecum can still lead the Giants to the playoffs.
If Lincecum has turned it around, the Giants are serious World Series contenders. The rest of the staff has been sensational, and despite having a big power bat, the offense hasn't been bad at all.
Compared to the 2010 World Series Champions, this year's team is a much better team. This year's offense is on a completely different level. Buster Posey is older, Pablo Sandoval is a stud not a dud and 2010 did not have anyone as consistent as Melky Cabrera.
The NL is competitive this year, but with the importance of pitching in the playoffs, the Giants could win it all again this year. If Lincecum is back, Barry Zito would most likely be the odd-man-out of the rotation, but this time he could be a solid option out of the bullpen.
The Giants need Lincecum to be who he was against the Astros, and he needs to be that pitcher to stay in the rotation. If the Giants' key to success is himself again, he can open the door to the World Series, but if not, the Giants could be in trouble.