When Tim Lincecum showcases himself to scouts on Friday, it would make sense for the New York Yankees to shove their way to a front seat.
By Emmanuel Berbari
Two-time Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum will pitch in front of scouts for at least 20 major league teams this Friday. Although the New York Yankees aren’t expected to attend, the three-time world champion has plenty to bring to the table.
The 31-year-old has worked all offseason towards extended durability that will hopefully land him another gig in the bigs.
Lincecum’s best days are clearly behind him, having not pitched to below a 4.00 ERA since his 2011 campaign. However, he is still a more serviceable option on an MLB staff, particularly one that is reeling.
That would be the New York Yankees. A team that is ranked 14th in the American League with a 4.74 overall ERA. The same team that has four of their five starting pitchers bolstering ERA’s north of 5.00.
Nothing right now can possibly worsen what has become a dreadful starting staff. With that being said, why not take a look at Lincecum?
Perhaps the extended offseason helped a guy who won 62 games for the Giants between 2008 and 2011. He was also the league leader in strikeouts in three consecutive seasons from 2008-2010. Regardless of velocity, the 5’11”, 170 pound right-hander has put away stuff.
The guy they call “The Freak” may just need a change in scenery, and there are 20 possible scenes according to reports regarding Friday. It should surprise many if one of those scenes is not the Bronx.
The Yanks should at least take a look at a guy who has had so much success and so much high leverage experience in his past. If they are impressed and do pull the trigger on a Lincecum deal, it would be of the low-risk high-reward nature.
Things could not possibly get any worse with Lincecum on the staff. If it pays dividends, the Yanks can pat themselves on the back.
There are several candidates for him to replace. Luis Severino likely punched his bid to Scranton with his latest outing, and the combination of Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi has been dismal.
Worst case scenario, Lincecum pitches as he has for the last handful of years. In that case, he would pitch to a 4.50 ERA. That would not hurt the Yankees by any stretch. Unfortunately, with one of the kinks in the scoring system, that would be pitching a quality start on average.
According to Brooks Baseball, it is Lincecum’s four-seam fastball that causes him the deepest headaches. Since the start of 2012, opponents have hit nearly .300 (.297) with 10 home runs off his heater.
The problem is that it’s not a heater anymore. It makes sense for a pitcher who has a small stature and so many innings taxed on his arm. The velocity will decrease over time. Pitches like his sinker and split, which have helped Lincecum immensely throughout his decline, can become relied upon and make him much more crafty. His split in particular has produced his most strikeouts (212) and the lowest slugging % (.336) of his entire repertoire.
Tim Lincecum, a pitcher most likely entering the twilight of his career, still has an upside that pitching coach Larry Rothschild can expose. When he takes the hill this Friday in Arizona, the Yankees should do more than just take a look. If they like what they see, it is a gamble an 8-16 team can take.