Tim Lincecum has 1st rehab start, eyeing rotation spot?

Jun 21, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum (55) in the first inning of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 21, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum (55) in the first inning of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

Tim Lincecum is trying to make his way back to the majors after being shut down 11 months due to a hip injury.  The Los Angeles Angels after watching his tryout last month took a chance on him.  Last night Lincecum pitched in a took for the Angels Triple-A Salt Lake City Bees.

Tim Lincecum was racing with adrenaline all day awaiting his first start since June 27, 2015 against Colorado.  When Lincecum took the mound for the Bees in Tacoma, Washington against the Seattle Mariners Triple-A affiliate the Tacoma Rainiers it was in front of many of his family members and friends since he grew up less than 30 minutes away from Tacoma in nearby Bellevue.  He also played college baseball for the University of Washington.

So with all the stars aligned what did Lincecum do when he stepped on the mound? He pitched five innings allowing three hits and three runs while striking out five batters.  Lincecum threw 88 pitches with 48 being strikes and he walked three batters.  Definitely not a picture-perfect outing, for the former Cy Young Award winner, but he will take it.

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Lincecum’s velocity was decent throwing mostly in the high 80’s, but he did throw a few pitches at 90 MPH above topping out at 91 MPH.  Lincecum will see his body feels in a few days, and if there are no major issues he will make at least one more rehab start next Tuesday most likely for Salt Lake City again.

Lincecum struggled the most in the first two innings as it took him 49 pitches to get through to the third inning.  This is also when Lincecum gave up all three of his runs.  He seemed to settle down after this as he only threw 39 pitches in the final three innings and did not give up any runs or hits.  At one point he retired nine batters in a row, four via the strikeout.

Angels’ assistant to the general manager Bud Black was impressed with Lincecum’s outing. “I’ve seen him a lot over the years and the delivery and the arm action looked like Tim Lincecum, which is a good sign,” said Black in a post-game interview with reporters Orange County Register’s Jeff Fletcher and MLB.com’s Doug Miller. “This was his first game back in a long time and it’s an environment that is competitive. But once he got through the first two innings, I thought the next three was pretty good pitching.”

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Lincecum who as signed by the Angels to a one-year 2.5 million dollar incentive-laden contract on May 20th and he added him to the 40-man roster the next day, will be another boost for the Angels pitching staff which has been depleted by injuries.

The question will be whose spot will he take in the rotation.  A few weeks ago it would have been a no-brainer as Matt Shoemaker had an ERA 8.49 when Lincecum was signed, but since then as he has always seem to do when his job is on the line Shoemaker has been lights out.

Shoemaker’s last three starts have been nothing short of spectacular, lowering his ERA nearly three full runs as it now sits at 5.50.  Shoemaker shutdown the Orioles holding them to three hits in 7.1 innings striking out 12 batters. He followed it up with an 8.1 inning outing with 11 strikeouts, which saw Shoemaker leave with two runners on base and closer Joe Smith gave up a 3-run homer to lose the game 3-1.  Then on Wednesday afternoon he wasn’t quite as sharp, but still only allowed two runs in seven innings and he struck out eight batters. The key in the three starters was 0 as in zero walks.

So with Lincecum’s target date for his Los Angeles Angels debut being on Sunday, June 12th vs. the Cleveland Indians (nothing is set in stone yet), who will be the odd man out? By the numbers it should be either Jered Weaver or surprisingly Hector Santiago.  Weaver is 2-4 with a 6.41 ERA in his last seven starts and Santiago is 1-3 with a 6.69 ERA in his previous seven outings.

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However, Santiago is the staff ace and Weaver is making too much money to be demoted to the bullpen.  That leaves Chacin and Tropeano as the potential odd men out.  Another slim possibility is starting Lincecum out in the bullpen.  Either way we will keep you posted over the next 10 days to see what will happen with Tim Lincecum A.K.A. “The Freak”.