What’s eating Tim Lincecum?

Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum gets the hook in the third inning against the Rockies on Wednesday. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Velocity issues? Declining numbers? Rough start to the season? This is what Tim Lincecum owners are facing in what could be a very long season.

This may be just a blip on what could be a Cy Young season, or this could be a very serious trend that is developing, but this 27-year-old pitcher is starting the season off poorly. In his first outing against the Arizona Diamondbacks, he gave up six runs on five hits while striking out seven and walking one in 5.1 innings. In his last four innings against the Diamondbacks, he is 0-4 with a 6.85 ERA. His average velocity was 90 mph in his first game.

Wednesday night, he was shelled. The Rockies murdered him. In 2.1 innings, he gave up six runs on eight hits while walking two and striking out three. This ended up being the shortest start of his career. His previous low was three innings. His velocity was also down in this game, as well (last year at this time, his velocity was averaging 93.1, this game he broke 92 only four times).

These numbers are alarming from a player who is considered a top-tier pitcher. More than likely, he was your first pitcher taken during the draft and you expected top-level stuff from him; however, there is definitely concern in what his production level will be this season.

First off, his BABIP was a .281 (most career averages tend to fall around .300) and his xFIP of 3.36 was way higher than his ERA of 2.74 (this is not good when predicting future ERA). In the past three seasons, his K/9 has dropped and his BB/9 has risen. Throw in the velocity issues, and now I have most Lincecum owners running to make a trade. But do not sell too low.

Lincecum, in my opinion, is not going to return the value at where you drafted him. Even if his velocity returns, most pitchers usually go on the DL for an extended period to rest and rebuild their arm strength. Is he going to be a top-20 pitcher from this day on? I would definitely buy that statement. Is he going to be a top-10 pitcher from this day forward? I am not so sure. He was drafted as the seventh-best pitcher in most drafts, and right now, if someone offered you someone in the David Price or Yovani Gallardo range (12-16), I think you have to take it.

Again, this maybe just a blip on what could be a Cy Young season for Lincecum, but as a fantasy owner, you should be worried and should be selling to get a pitcher who is not having these issues. Trust me, you will sleep better at night.


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