If the Giants make the playoffs, Tim Lincecum will be in the their starting rotation. Don’t kid yourself. If he’s not hurt, “The Freak” will be getting the ball in October.
His 2010 postseason run, combined with the few flashes of brilliance we’ve seen this season, are all the team needs to justify such a decision.
And be sure that they’ll use it.
And be equally sure that they won’t be using Lincecum as a reliever.
Don’t laugh. Plenty of folks, seemingly sane, have suggested to me in recent weeks that Lincecum should be converted to a closer.
They’re dead serious, too. What they ought to be is committed.
In fact, the next person to float the notion of Lincecum as closer in the playoffs gets strapped to a chair in a very small, hot room into which an endless loop of various Jonas Brothers tunes will be piped.
Lincecum’s problem this season, more than anything, is the same problem that turned Barry Zito’s once-fabulous career into a sad, ironic punch line: lack of command.
What’s the least desirable quality for a closer? That would be, um, lack of command. Leadoff walks hurt in the ninth inning a heck of a lot more than they do in the first.
Thus, Lincecum will start in the playoffs, and how’s this for a bold prediction: He’ll start ahead of Ryan Vogelsong — even if their respective forms this season hold through the end of the regular season.
He’s Tim Lincecum, for crying out loud. He beat Cliff Lee to win a World Series. The debate ends there.
Not saying it’ll be the right choice, but it will be the choice.
Oh, and if you were tempted to try to bring Zito into the rotation discussion, start running now. If we catch you, we’re putting you into that same sweaty room we mentioned earlier and throwing the Jonas Brothers into it with you ... LIVE!
Zito might not even make the playoff roster. He’s been a pleasant surprise in many respects, but games like the one he had Wednesday against the lowly Houston Astros simply kill any trust he might have banked before them.
SAME AS IT EVER WAS: Never again should you allow yourself to feel even the slightest bit bad about not being more of a hockey fan.
In theory, even Bay Area natives who still haven’t even seen snowfall, much less put blade to ice, should love the sport by now.
It’s played by incredible athletes, it’s fast-paced and physical, and the local team is a perennial contender.
But something always stops you from a full buy-in. There’s something inherently inept about the sport at its highest level, and here it goes again: In the wake of a damn cool Stanley Cup playoffs, and a fairly flashy offseason — Sid the Kid’s deal, Minnesota going Wild on the free-agent market — that served to stoke the interest furnace, the NHL and its players are at an impasse in collective bargaining that could very well threaten the regular season.
And again, any on-the-fence fan turns away from hockey to look elsewhere.
SPEED ROUND: Sorry, Andre Ward. Great to have a world-class boxer repping the Bay, but you’ve gotta drop “Son of God” as your nickname if you want mass appeal. “Sugar” worked. “Hit Man” was properly menacing. “Marvelous” was almost regal. “Son of God”? Just can’t see a 13-year-old in Cleveland getting behind it. ... If the A’s and Baltimore Orioles have to square off in that new wild-card do-or-die game in the American League, one of the two best stories in baseball comes to an end. Other than that, it’s getting harder and harder to find fault with that second extra playoff spot. ... Wasn’t it nice to wake up Friday morning, Niners and Raiders season ticket holders? No more exhibition games to which you were forced to buy seats to choke down. Just awful. Congrats on making it through.
Mychael Urban, a frequent co-host of “The Wheelhouse” (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) on KGMZ (95.7 FM, The Game), can be followed on Twitter @BigUrbSports. His website is UrbsUnchained.com.