Posted on February 27, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
Two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum is making another comeback attempt. More importantly, he’s found a team that’s willing to give him a chance. Lincecum has reportedly agreed to sign with the Texas Rangers. The deal is reportedly worth $1 million plus incentives for one year. Lincecum is expected to pitch out of the Texas bullpen.
Lincecum was out of organized baseball for all of 2017 after undergoing hip surgery in September 2016. He last pitched in the big leagues as a member of the Los Angeles Angels during the 2016 season. After giving up one run over six innings in his debut with the Angels, things quickly went downhill for Lincecum. He ended up making nine starts before the Angels designated him for assignment. In those nine starts, Lincecum was 2-6 with a 9.18 ERA.
However, his struggles in 2016 have not deterred the 33-year old Lincecum from making a comeback. After sitting out all of 2017, Lincecum held a workout earlier this month with scouts from roughly 20 big league clubs in attendance. He was reportedly in peak physical shape and throwing his fastball in the low 90s, an uptick from the 2016 season. Scouts also commented that his breaking ball looked better than it did toward the end of his time in San Francisco or with the Angels.
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Lincecum’s performance was apparently good enough to convince the Rangers to offer him a major league contract. Texas has made an effort this offseason to bring in veteran pitchers at affordable prices. They moved quickly to sign Doug Fister and Mike Minor early in the winter. They also traded for Matt Moore and signed several pitchers to minor league deals, most notably Bartolo Colon. In that sense, it’s not surprising to see the Rangers end up with Lincecum.
Of course, by giving him a major league deal, it implies the Rangers believe Lincecum has a chance to play a prominent role this season, most likely as a reliever. He has just eight career regular season appearances as a reliever, with seven more in the postseason. Lincecum may need to make an adjustment to pitching out of the bullpen. However, for an undersized pitcher in his 30’s who throws every pitch with a maximum amount of effort, the bullpen may be his only option at this point.
Fortunately for Lincecum, the Rangers appear to have a lot of open spots in their bullpen. He may even have a chance to compete for the closer’s job during spring training. Alex Claudio and Matt Bush are the top candidates to be the team’s closer this year. However, Bush may be given a chance to start while Claudio’s only experience as a closer came late last season. With little depth or certainty toward the back end of their bullpen, the Rangers may be looking to Lincecum to carve out a prominent late-inning relief role in 2018.
Obviously, it’s tough to know how Lincecum will fair as a member of the Texas bullpen. He struggled with the Angels in 2016 and has thrown less than 115 total innings over the last three years. Nevertheless, he’s still a two-time Cy Young winner and four-time all-star. If Lincecum thinks he can still pitch in the big leagues, you can’t fault the Rangers for giving him a chance. If nothing else, it should be interesting to watch and find out if Lincecum has anything left in the tank.