Lincecum had a bit of a disappointing season last year after posting back-to-back Cy Young seasons and getting everybody worried with a diminished fastball and a stretch where he looked mortal. He was able to bounce back from that and lead the historic pitching staff to the promise land.
Most projections that you will see give you one line of stats. I know my limitations, so I will gave you that line of stats, but also a best case and a worst case scenario, so you can get an idea of my general range for that player.
Without further ado, the projection:
I am optimistic that Lincecum will go back to one of the top handful of pitchers in baseball and it's possible that he could regain the title of the best in the game, but there are still nagging worries to address.
Last year, he had the lowest K/9 since his rookie year and some might see a downward trend there. Over the last 3 years, his K/9 rate has declined from 10.51 in 2008 to 10.42 in 2009 and 9.79 in 2010. This could be a concern, but at 9.79, he's still an elite strikeout pitcher and, with the amount of innings he pitched, it was good enough to lead the league in strikeouts. In addition, if you include the playoffs into his pitching line, it increases to 9.96, which is still a drop but much more in line with the rest of his career.
The loss of velocity on the fastball is still a concern, but much less than it was when it was an obsession in the middle of last season. In his last starts of the season, things started trending up again (which was the opposite of what had happened in his other big league seasons where he lost velocity as the season wore on). This calmed many fears. We should have a better idea of where things are once he gets back into the swing of things at the beginning of the season.
The other thing that makes me feel better is if you exclude his rough August and add in his playoff performance, you see a line that is much closer to what we have come to expect from Timmy. Yes, it's kind of cherry picking, but it shows that he wasn't bad last year by any stretch of the imagination. He would have gone 20-6 with a 2.79 ERA with 247 strikeouts in 222 innings and very well could have beaten Roy Halladay for Cy Young #3.
Tim Lincecum doesn't cause too much worry from me, as I expect him to continue to do what he does and, if everything falls into place, he could be in line for some more hardware. The worst case is he has a season like 2010 where he was good enough to lead the team to a World Series championship.
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