Tim Lincecum showed off his relief potential while leading the Giants to the 2012 World Series title
There's no doubt that 2017 was a year to remember in baseball. However, while dingers were abound and a World Series drought was broken, there was one notable player absent who hadn't been missing from a season since 2006 --
The longtime Giants rotation staple sat out last year after a shaky campaign with the Angels in 2016, leading fans to wonder if they had seen the last of him. Thankfully, they can stop worrying, as Lincecum has agreed to a contract for 2018, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.
Lincecum will likely compete for a bullpen spot, a role which would be unfamiliar to most two-time Cy Young Award winners, but not Lincecum. Back in 2012, he was primarily a reliever in the Giants' postseason bullpen as they made their championship run.
It began in the National League Division Series against the Reds. Lincecum had thrown two shutout innings of relief in Game 2, but the Giants faced an 0-2 series deficit heading back to Cincinnati. They won Game 3 in extra innings but faced a big jam in Game 4 when the Reds knocked Barry Zito out early. Lincecum promptly threw fire for 4 1/3 brilliant frames, striking out six batters and allowing just one run on two hits as the Giants won, 8-3.
They completed their amazing comeback a day later with a 6-4 win that sent them to the National League Championship Series. Lincecum again shined in relief during the opener against the Cardinals:
The Giants went on to beat the Cardinals in seven games, setting up a World Series showdown with the Tigers. Their fearsome lineup featured both
Lincecum fanned five in 2 1/3 perfect innings, helping secure an 8-3 Giants victory.
In Game 3, skipper Bruce Bochy called upon Lincecum once more, this time to take over for Ryan Vogelsong:
Again, the Tigers had simply no answer for "The Freak." No one managed a single hit against him in 2 1/3 innings. The Giants won, 2-0, and completed the sweep the next day for their second World Series title in three years.
The numbers from Lincecum's relief work during the 2012 postseason are staggering -- in 13 innings, he pitched to a 0.69 ERA with 17 strikeouts, allowing just three hits and two walks. It was something to behold, and although it was six years ago, the Rangers will hope for more of the same in 2018.
Welcome back, Timmy.