Tim Lincecum Has Lost His Mojo

Tim Lincecum may regret coming back to Major League Baseball. Lincecum, once considered an elite pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, has struggled since signing a contract with the Los Angeles Angels. Pitching against the Seattle Mariners on Friday night (August 6), Lincecum gave up six runs in the first inning, again struggling to keep batters from getting on base.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia left Lincecum in the game against the Mariners, likely feeling that he needed to at least get a few more innings out of the veteran pitcher. While he didn’t allow any more runs after the first inning, Lincecum did allow nine hits and two walks before getting relieved with one out in the fourth inning. It became the eighth straight start where Lincecum couldn’t make it out of the sixth inning.

Since signing a free agent contract with the Los Angeles Angels on May 20, Tim Lincecum has made nine starts for the team. He started out quite well, allowing just one run in six innings against the Oakland Athletics on June 18. It has been all downhill since then, with Lincecum’s ERA ballooning to 9.16 and his WHIP up to 2.37 on the season. Averaging 2.37 baserunners per inning simply isn’t going to get it done at the Major League level.

Tim Lincecum Against Red Sox
In nine starts with the Angels, Lincecum is 2-6 with opponents hitting 0.395 against him. He has allowed 68 hits, 23 walks, and two hit batters in just 38 and one-third innings of work. This is not what the Angels were hoping to see from the former Cy Young winner when they signed him out of free agency. It was also not what fantasy baseball owners were hoping for after he dominated the Oakland Athletics in his first start of the season.

While with the San Francisco Giants, Tim Lincecum won the National League Cy Young Award two times and was selected to the NL All-Star team four times. His best year was during the 2009 MLB season when he posted a 2.48 ERA and 1.047 WHIP in 32 starts. Lincecum also had 261 strikeouts to lead the league, posting a rate of 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings. After the 2011 MLB season, though, where he posted a 2.74 ERA over 33 starts, Lincecum began to struggle for the Giants.

Following the 2015 MLB season, where Lincecum managed only 15 starts and had a WHIP of 1.480, the Giants decided to go in a different direction. Feeling he still had something in the tank, Lincecum let his body heal and then began the search for a new Major League team. Lincecum and his agent pitched in front of teams several times before the Angels decided to offer him a one-year contract for $2.5 million. The front office may now be glad that the deal wasn’t longer than that.

Tim Lincecum Against Astros
There isn’t just one problem that Tim Lincecum is having on the mound this season. Lincecum has been falling behind in the count early, has lost a bit of velocity on his fastball, and has pitched terribly with runners on base. Wasting pitches is a tactic that pitchers can only get away with if they can come back in the count and blow away a hitter. That’s not something the 10-year veteran has done well this year.

Moving forward, the Angels aren’t even sure if Lincecum is going to remain in the starting rotation. Getting beat up in the first inning by the Seattle Mariners has the team considering moving him to the bullpen. A lack of depth and options to turn to are reasons that the Angels signed Lincecum in the first place, so there aren’t a lot of ideas for the team to try out. What has become very clear is that Tim Lincecum has lost his mojo on the mound, possibly forecasting that this could be his final season in Major League Baseball.

[Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images]