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For the moment, Bruce Bochy hasn't yet announced what his starting rotation for the World Series is going to look like.
Until he does, the biggest question mark is whether Tim Lincecum will be allowed to start again, or if he'll find himself back in the bullpen once the World Series gets underway.
There's only one right choice regarding Lincecum, and it's the latter. The best place for him to be in the Fall Classic is in the bullpen.
Hopes were high for Lincecum when he took the mound in Game 4 of the NLCS, but all the same old problems that plagued him during the regular season cropped up once again. He didn't have good fastball command, nor did he have much that he could use to get Cardinals hitters out within the strike zone. With runners on base, things got worse before they got better.
In retrospect, none of this is a surprise. The Cardinals were a bad matchup for Lincecum all along due to their patience and tendency to take pitches out of the strike zone. This year more than any other, Lincecum needs hitters to expand the zone in order to be successful.
The bad news for Lincecum is that the Tigers are similar to the Cardinals in many respects. The Cardinals finished first in MLB in on-base percentage, and the Tigers finished third. The Cardinals had a strikeout rate of 18.8 percent during the regular season, according to FanGraphs, while the Tigers stood at 18.0 percent. And so on.
Beyond the signs that the Tigers are a bad matchup for Lincecum, the warning signs are also there that AL teams in general are a bad matchup for Lincecum. In four interleague starts this season, he posted a 7.40 ERA and allowed an OPS of .777.
Lincecum had success coming out of the bullpen in three appearances prior to his start in Game 4 of the NLCS, so the smart play is to return him to that role.
If that's the road Bochy takes, then he also has to make another pitching decision...