By Jason Shetler
Five years ago, the Pirates would have had absolutely zero chance of signing Tim Lincecum if he were a free agent. The two-time NL Cy Young winner had been riding high as one of the best pitchers in baseball. The last few years however have been a different story for the slender right-hander. After putting up a 3.05 ERA between 2007 to 2011, Lincecum has posted an ERA of 4.61 since 2012. Fielding Independent Pitching has him more favorable at 4.13, so going by that, he’s been more decent than subpar.
In his first five seasons, Lincecum had a 9.8 K/9. This past season, the K/9 was a career low at 7.1. The main contributing factor would be decreased fastball velocity at just 87.5 mph, which was about four mph slower than his career average prior to this year. Despite the slow velocity, Lincecum’s swinging strike percentage was still above average, as he got hitters to swing and miss at a 10.7% clip, which has to do with the fact that his changeup still remains a very good secondary pitch.
It’s been reported that Lincecum has been recovering well from hip surgery, and plans to have a showcase for teams in January. The Pirates have obviously become the poster child of the reclamation projects. If Lincecum is healthy enough and throws well, the Pirates should really give him a look, not just because of the favorable metrics, but also that he could be an upgrade to any back of the rotation options they currently have right now.