Tim Lincecum might be the most consistently-panned player in this space over the last couple of years. We didn't give him an excuse for the gopheritis trend that started in 2012. We didn't trust the K/9 rate, given that the strikeout percentage was moving in the wrong direction. We didn't play the "but he's Tim Lincecum" card, an all-time silly argument.
Numbers over names, man.
But Timmy Lincecum in the Giants bullpen? Yeah, I'm intrigued again.
Lincecum's star started to fade in the 2012 season, but you probably remember he was a reliever for most of San Francisco's championship run. Check what he did out of the bullpen that October: 13 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 17 K. The appearances came against the Reds, Cardinals and Tigers. (Full disclosure, he was knocked around in one start at St. Louis.)
It's very common to see recycled starters turn into dominant relievers. Heck, the Hall of Fame has some. When Dennis Eckersley needed a jump start, he went to the bullpen. Goose Gossage was just a failed starter before the train got rolling. HOF lock Mariano Rivera fits this model, too. (John Wetteland, Eric Gagne, we could run out names all day long. Zach Britton and Wade Davis are two examples from this year.)
Lincecum doesn't have to worry about pacing himself in this new role, or multiple trips through a batting order. He can cut loose, leave it all on the mound. I'm expecting him to thrive in this role, and I've added him in a few leagues where quality innings are important.
I recognize this isn't the sort of play that will work in all leagues. In some formats, a non-closing reliever has little or no value. There's no way to make this column one-size-fits-all. I'm just giving you a look at my playbook, and telling you I expect Lincecum to be worthwhile for the rest of the season, at least in some formats.
Your move, gamer.
• There isn't a lot to say about the early shutdown of Shin-Soo Choo, or the expected one with Yu Darvish. You drop them (Texas would be foolish to risk Darvish in September), you curse your luck, you move on. In the case of Choo, there were warning signs all year, easy flags to see. You should know the drill - it's important to stay grounded on players who are already hurt and all that.
Where is the next shutdown coming? I worry it might be with Boston closer Koji Uehara.
The lockdown righty has started to look tired over the last five weeks, posting a 4.15 ERA and collecting four blown saves (including one Monday, when he inherited Clay Buchholz's ninth-inning YYZ mess). Uehara has allowed five homers over that span. Uehara still represents a tremendous value over the balance of the season - he was basically unhittable until the middle of July - but keep in mind we're talking about a 39-year-old pitcher here, and someone who's needed extra maintenance here and there.
I use the word worry because Uehara is on a couple of my key teams, and I don't have a ton of bench space. I'd prefer not to waste roster property on a speculation hedge, especially since there's no guarantee on who Boston might go to. Junichi Tazawa has better numbers, but Edward Mujica has closer experience (if that matters to you) and three saves this year. In one pool where I have Uehara, I grabbed a Mujica share.
Some of you will make speculation plays now. Some of you will hope to get to the news first, if there is any news, when it happens. Some in smaller groups can wait until definition comes. And I guess some will just whistle in the dark and hope Uehara is fine. There's no standard rule with these types of things.
I can't guarantee you a fire is coming. I'm just letting you know I see some smoke.
• You're welcome to spin the imminent Jorge Soler promotion any way you like. We've seen plenty of Cuban imports hit the ground running in recent years, though we've also seen several rookie flops in 2014.
Soler, 22, started this summer in rookie ball, but earned multiple promotions and was slashing .282/.378/.618 at Triple-A Iowa (eight homers in 32 games). You have to assume the Cubs intend to start him upon arrival - he's expected to join the team Wednesday. If I were doing an outfield Shuffle Up right now, I'd have Soler in the $8-10 range. If someone else beats me to the punch, fine.