Rick Porcello and Tim Lincecum: The Youngsters Who Can Reach 300

Adam BoutonCorrespondent IJune 9, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - APRIL 07:  Tim Lincecum #55 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers during Opening Day of the Major League Baseball season on April 7, 2009 at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

When tireless left-hander and future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson finally captured his 300th win this past week, many wondered whether anyone would ever reach that plateau ever again.

Most answered no, but I offer two pitchers who have a realistic chance at getting close—if not eclipsing it.

Rick Porcello of the Detroit Tigers, just 20, perhaps has the best chance because of when he started his major league career and because of the ceiling he has.

The right-hander, who was drafted out of high school, bolted through the minors and ultimately found himself in the rotation after injuries and lackluster performances from several other Detroit pitchers during spring training.

He hasn't disappointed.

Porcello already has six wins in his young career, including five in May when he was named American League Rookie of the Month. More importantly, he has earned the faith of manager Jim Leyland who ultimately was his biggest fan in the decision on whether he would begin the 2009 season in the majors or minors.

At 20-years old and because of his early success, Porcello has a shot to capture 300 wins down the road. This all, of course, hinges on the fact that he stays healthy and contributes for just about every single season the rest of his career.

The Tigers are being very careful with his pitch count, rarely letting him go over 90 pitches or past five or six innings.  They might even shut him down later in the season so as not to jeopardize next season's production and to keep his arm fresh.

If he averages 15 wins for the next 20 years, he'd be 40-years old and also at 300 wins.

It's doable.

If he's able to supply a few 20-win seasons and reach his peak as a top-of-the-rotation guy, I truly feel he could have the best opportunity to get to 300.

Even though I think Porcello has a good chance, he's not the only fireballer who I believe has a shot.

Another young pitcher, currently in his third season, who I think has a chance is Giants starter and Johnson's teammate Tim Lincecum.

Ever since Lincecum, actually before, made it to the major leagues, I've been intrigued with the right-hander.

I've been fortunate enough to watch the 24-year-old pitch live in San Francisco and he didn't disappoint.  Even though he didn't win the night I watched him (the offense let him down again), he had the poise and swagger that all dominant starters need.

Plus, he's got something else going for him.

To me, he has the passion for the game of baseball needed to make a serious run at 300 wins.  Every time I see him throw, it's as if he's playing in a diamond just down the street from his house. 

The game is joyful for him and it's as if he's still a kid—he looks as if he's still a kid, too.  It seems as though he's got that contagious personality that people are drawn to.

Plus, he's just flat out overpowering on the mound.

He earned 18 wins in his sophomore season in earning the NL Cy Young Award and has already racked up five wins for an offensively anemic San Francisco Giants squad this season.

Should the Giants ever pick up any offense, his win total could increase this season and into next.

His unorthodox delivery and tiny frame have me worried about whether he can stay injury-free his whole career, but the Giants too have been careful with his arm—as is apparent by his just two complete games in his young career.

He pitched 227 innings last season and I doubt you will see him get into that range this season.  I expect him to total somewhere around 200 this season as the Giants look to relieve the stress on his arm.

One thing is for certain, at least most likely for this season.

Giants' fans probably won't have to worry about Lincecum going for extra miles in the post-season because the Giants most likely won't get there.

Because Lincecum—who currently has 30 wins—is just around the corner from being 25, he'd have to average 18 wins over the next 15 years to reach 300.  While that is an even steeper task than perhaps Porcello's, I think he can do it.

Should injuries de-rail his electric arm, I think Lincecum has the drive to re-invent himself and still be effective.  His work ethic is well-documented and like I said earlier, he's got that swagger that, well, Randy Johnson has.

It'll be no easy task to get to 300, but I believe that if there are two youngsters in the game of baseball today who have that chance, Porcello and Lincecum top the list.