Tim Lincecum was chased after giving up six runs (four earned) over just 2 2/3 innings on Saturday against the Nationals and now Amy Gutierrez of CSN Bay Area reports that the Giants will move him to the bullpen indefinitely.
Lincecum pitched a no-hitter earlier this season, but he owns a 4.64 ERA on the year and has really struggled of late with a 9.49 ERA with a 22/15 K/BB ratio in 24 2/3 innings over his last six starts. As a result, the Giants will turn to Yusmiero Petit to start Thursday against the Diamondbacks. With a 3.59 ERA and 87/17 K/BB ratio in 80 1/3 innings in six starts and 27 relief appearances this year, he’s deserving of the assignment.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy hasn’t announced his plans beyond Thursday, but Lincecum’s velocity and and command have been on the decline for a while now and a move to the bullpen might be the best thing for him and a team with postseason aspirations.
The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.
Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).
Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.