Look at that damned headline. Take yourself out of the present and think big picture. Think about where you were on Sunday night when Tim Lincecum debuted in the majors, how hard you rooted for him to win his first Cy Young. How hard you rooted for him to win his second Cy Young, seeing as awards were the best that Giants fans could hope for. How normal it was for him to be matched up with Cliff Lee in a possible Series-clincher because aces are supposed to match up with aces.
Now look at the headline again. This feels like Marlon Brando turning from Stanley Kowalski into Dr. Moreau while you went to make coffee. Where are we? Who are you? What just happened?
This is all speculation, of course, but considering that Yusmeiro Petit has pitched well enough not to worry about getting bounced from the rotation after a bad start, and considering that Lincecum has appeared in just one (unimpressive) outing since being replaced in the rotation, can you concoct one scenario in which Lincecum is one of the 25 players on a Giants playoff roster? Edit: He pitched well in Detroit! I was not watching, so I missed that. Serves me right.
As a starter
If the Padres make it to the NLCS, sure. Otherwise, the Giants would need to be two starters down for the idea to even be considered for more than three seconds.
As a spot starter/long reliever
This job would go to Petit or Vogelsong, depending on who got the fourth spot in the rotation. (Petit would be in the bullpen, most likely. Though there are three weeks for him to make his case.)
As a middle reliever
I remember a time when this worked out and worked out quite well. It was the best of times, it was the bester of times. The year: 2012. The town: Cincinnati. It was a town that had no patience for filthy stuff, as Larry Flynt can confirm, and the Giants ...
Right. Except that was a long, long time ago. It shouldn't inform the Giants' decision right now any more than it should convince them that Ryan Theriot still belongs on a roster. Lincecum hasn't pitched in any high-leverage situations, and he's unlikely to in the near future. His future might be in the bullpen. His immediate future is not going to be in the late innings.
Technically, there's a spot. The Giants had the same bullpen permutation for most of the season, subbing in George Kontos whenever a need arose. Juan Gutierrez was in that mix, and he's been fairly unwatchable for the last month. The Giants would have to consider leaving him off the roster. Lincecum could take that spot.
Except, why? Here's another option:
Let's see ... yes. Yes, let's consider that option. That option makes a lot more sense. A lot more.
Look at that damned headline. But the more I think about it, it's inevitable. Well, if the Giants make the playoffs, that is. I typed this under a ladder and broke three mirrors before publishing, but other than that, I don't see what could go wrong. Lincecum isn't likely to get the 2012 Lincecum treatment. He's likely to get the 2010 Zito treatment.
If that makes you sad, don't worry. It just means that he'll be an NLCS hero in 2016. We would all be okay with that. Until then, I don't see any way Lincecum makes a postseason roster. The Giants didn't go with salary and nostalgia in 2010, and they won't now.
(Still pulling for Lincecum to throw six scoreless innings with 12 strikeouts over the next week to make it interesting. Still hoping. Still a fool ...)