Where does one start equal more than 33?
How does one single game redeem an entire season? The answer to those riddles lies in the postseason.
A player can have a bad season completely redeemed by showing up big in October. And right now that is what Tim Lincecum is aiming for with his Game 4 start in the National League Championship Series. His San Francisco Giants are down 2-1 after Kyle Lohse and the Cardinals squeaked past Matt Cain.
A St. Louis victory would mean the defending World Champions would be one win from returning to the World Series.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy is handing the ball to the Freak, Lincecum, to save the series.
This would have been a best-case scenario two years ago. In 2010, Lincecum was coming off of back-to-back Cy Young-winning seasons and went on to win the Babe Ruth Award for his dominant postseason performance.
He won the World Series clincher in 2010.
He was out of the rotation in 2012, the worst season of his career.
No National League pitcher lost more games nor gave up more earned runs. His 10-15 record with a 5.18 ERA spoke volumes of his awful season.
He failed to reach 200 innings pitched despite starting more games than any National League starter. And his ERA+ was 67, more than 100 points below his 2008 Cy Young season.
Lincecum was not in the rotation against the Cincinnati Reds in the NLDS. But he gave Bochy 4 1/3 innings of relief for the win in the critical Game 4. He also pitched out of the pen in the NLCS opener.
He pitched well out of the bullpen. Now he is being asked to save the season.
Players have used October to redeem poor seasons before.
Does anyone remember that Johnny Podres had a losing record in 1955 for the Brooklyn Dodgers?
Johnny Bench had one of the worst seasons of his career in 1976.
Darrell Porter was considered to be a huge disappointment for the Cardinals in 1982.
Met fans were calling for Davey Johnson to bench Ray Knight in 1986.
Edgar Renteria was considered to be over the hill with the 2010 Giants.
Nobody remembers that. All people remember is that each player listed above won the MVP of the World Series. Everyone listed above is considered to be a great postseason star because their October outshone their regular season.
If Lincecum wins tonight and gets the Giants back on track, his regular season will essentially be wiped out.
And if he can recapture some of that 2008-10 magic, the Cardinals could be in trouble.