Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum underwent season-ending hip surgery this morning, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Giants GM Bobby Evans said Thursday in a KNBR radio appearance that Lincecum is out for the season, though he did not definitively mention Lincecum’s surgical procedure (hat tip: Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle). Said Evans:
“He won’t be able to come back this season. That’s evident. He went to Colorado to see a specialist and get a second opinion and get an evaluation with the prospect that he will have surgery. The next step for him is to do everything he can and get back and get well, but it’s going to take him out for the season. What that leads to in terms of his progression healthwise will dictate what opportunities he has with us or elsewhere.”
As Schulman notes, the injury may very well bring to a close Lincecum’s historic career as a member of the Giants.
Selected with the 10th overall pick in the 2006 draft, Lincecum debuted in 2007 as a hard-throwing 23-year-old, tossing 146 1/3 innings of 4.00 ERA ball and averaging better than a strikeout per inning with initially shaky control. The control woes quickly dissipated, however, as Lincecum won consecutive Cy Young Awards in his next two seasons. From 2008-11, there were few pitchers in the game that were decisively better than “The Freak,” whose unorthodox delivery and dominant results won the hearts of Giants fans. Over that four-year stretch, Lincecum posted a 2.81 ERA with 10.0 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9 in 881 2/3 innings, earning All-Star honors each year.
Since that time, though, Lincecum’s career has gone in the opposite direction. He’s lost the mid-90s fastball that he had in his early to mid-20s, and he averaged just 87.2 mph on his vastly diminished heater this year. Lincecum inked a two-year, $35MM extension after the 2013 season despite marginal bottom-line results (sabermetric stats pegged him in a more optimistic light), but he hasn’t lived up to that deal. In the end, he’ll have pitched just 232 innings with a 4.54 ERA to show for it under that contract.
Schulman writes that Lincecum “surely will not get a Major League deal” from the Giants this offseason, and if that’s the case, it does seem likely that his days with San Francisco are coming to a close. Barring an exorbitant recovery timetable from this operation, it’s tough to imagine that no team would give Lincecum a big league deal, his lack of recent results notwithstanding.
Heyman wrote earlier this week that Lincecum was seeing renowned hip specialist Marc Philippon in Vail, Colo. Per Heyman’s report, surgery would most likely have Lincecum ready in time for Spring Training, and there’s a belief among some doctors that the dip in velocity is partially tied to his hip troubles.