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The mistake of Tim Lincecum on the NLCS roster

I love Tim Lincecum. I named my second daughter "Tim Lincecum Bobblehead Brisbee." But this is a post filled with pragmatism.

Ezra Shaw

It's happy-fun time right now. At least, it will be until the games start. The Giants are still in the playoffs, 26 other teams are not. One of those 26 teams is the Dodgers. Breathe that in for a bit. This isn't the best time for nitpicking.

Except I can't help it. Here's a headline :

Giants aiming to find role for Lincecum in NLCS

There are quotes:

"I know he didn't get in a game, and I'd like to give him a game.

"He's done a lot for us. I haven't forgotten that."

I have thoughts.

The first thought is that anyone denigrating Tim Lincecum -- Cy Young winner (2x), World Series winner (2x) and Padres no-hitterer (2x) -- is a bad person who should be locked in a steamer trunk and forgotten about until they've realized what they've done and apologized. I want Lincecum to get a game. I want him to strike out six batters in an inning, with the last out coming with the bases loaded. This is possible because of dropped third strikes and such, and it should happen.

The second thought: no.

He's done a lot for the Giants. Bochy is correct. He's done so damned much. He took this team places I never thought they would go in my lifetime. I haven't forgotten that. On the other hand, I can't imagine a scenario where he comes into the game in a way that helps the Giants win a baseball game right now. The Giants aren't in a spot where they should be dishing out complimentary games, either.

Take Game 2 of the NLDS as an example. The Giants, looking to go up 2-0 in the NLDS, played an 18-inning game. Do you realize how freaky that situation is? The Giants had played seven 18-inning-or-longer games in franchise history. Total. That's New York and San Francisco, both. In one of them, Babe Adams just didn't know how to win. In another one, some random cup-of-coffee minor leaguer took the loss.

There were seven of those games before Game 2. That's because it's a freak occurrence, a total puddle of nonsense. It's so far on the edge of the reasonable-expectation spectrum, it's safe to ignore as a realistic possibility. And yet when the Giants played an 18-inning game in the playoffs, they still found a way not to use Tim Lincecum. Basically, they're saving him for the 19th inning, which is like making plans for a yeti attack.

Here's another situation: Tenth inning, runner on second. Giants ... down by two. Maybe up by one. It doesn't matter, pick a scenario. The Cardinals have Randy Choate in the game, and they want to keep him in for Gregor Blanco at the top of the order, if possible. Or maybe they want to keep him in for Brandon Belt, if possible. The Giants get a free shot. They can pinch-hit a right-handed hitter .

Joaquin Arias grabs a bat.

That's a realistic scenario. That's something that might happen three times in the series. Instead of Adam Duvall -- second in the PCL in home runs this year, and an imperfect practitioner of the dinger arts -- it will be Arias. Instead of the speedy Gary Brown -- who at least hits lefties well -- it'll be Arias. Perhaps Juan Perez. If Bochy is feeling froggy, it might be Andrew Susac, which might start a chain reaction that leads to Pablo Sandoval catching. At some point, the bench gets thin. At every point, it's without a true power threat.

Meanwhile, in the bullpen, there's a guy who isn't to be trusted unless the game goes 19. Seriously, when do you use Lincecum? How about the situation the Giants used Hunter Strickland in Game 4? Just Lincecum and Bryce Harper, a one-run lead on the line.


How about a situation like Petit was used in for Game 2? One run ends it. One run could mean the series. So the Giants need five, six, or seven innings to secure the win.


Ninth inning? Nope. Eighth with a one-run lead? A two-run lead? A four-run lead? Nope. Nope. Nope.

The only two scenarios that make sense are 1) Giants up by, I don't know, eight runs , and 2) a 19-inning game. Neither one of those scenarios is likely enough to justify the roster spot.

I get that Lincecum has done more for the Giants than just about anyone who has ever -- ever -- put on the uniform. When it comes to the best 25 players for a National League Championship Series in 2014, he probably shouldn't have made the cut. It shouldn't be much of a debate. He's on the roster, so this is me talking to hear my own voice. I think it's a mistake, though.

I was also the guy clamoring for Melky Cabrera on the 2012 postseason roster, too, so being wrong is kind of my business. Hope I'm wrong here, too.