On Tuesday afternoon, Jeff Passan sent out this tweet:
Sources: Tim Lincecum is deep into talks with the Texas Rangers on a one-year major league deal, and the expectation is it gets done soon. One possible plan for Lincecum: pitch out of the bullpen. And with the Rangers' closer job wide open, he's got a good shot at securing it.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 27, 2018
Shortly following that tweet it was made official that Tim Lincecum will indeed be joining the Texas Rangers. The two parties agreed to a 1-year, $1 million major league contract. This is coming off the heels of a bullpen session he threw in front of several MLB scouts on February 15. In the 25-pitch session, the 33-year-old showed off his improved physique, and the return of his 90-93 mph fastball.
As Passan eluded to in his initial tweet, Lincecum will very likely join the Rangers bullpen competition. And with the team’s closer role up for grabs, who knows if we could see The Freak closing games in 2018. Texas has an immediate need for pitching depth, and taking this buy-low chance on Lincecum makes a lot of sense.
The 5’11” starter last pitched in 2016 with the Angels. That year, he only pitched 38.1 innings and gave up 41 runs, posting an ERA of 9.16 in nine games. Despite his truly abysmal stats two years ago, Lincecum is now healthy, back in shape and ready to compete in 2018.
A bullpen role with the Rangers could be just what he needs now. A way for him to ease back into the grind of pitching should allow him to keep his fastball velocity up in the 90’s. Then the Rangers could start to stretch his pitch count as he settles in.
The two-time Cy Young award winner will likely never be the dominant starter he once was. But this is the opportunity he needed to get back into the game. If he can show he can be effective in a relief role, perhaps they may try to stretch him back into being a starter. And that’s a comeback plenty of baseball fans would welcome.