Freak-ishly bad

AP Photo/Ben Margot

Something isn’t right with Tim Lincecum this season.

The San Francisco Giants’ ace that has been affectionately nicknamed “The Freak” just doesn’t seem to have the same freakish magic he’s been known for since his career began.

I’ve been the spokesman for not panicking when slow starts occur in Major League Baseball, but I’m afraid Lincecum’s ugly start to the 2012 season could be a trend.

After three starts, Lincecum is 0-2, and I can say with a lot of confidence, having not even looked at past seasons, that he’s never started a year 0-2. I can definitely say that his ERA has never been as high as 10.54 through three starts.

In those three outings, Lincecum hasn’t once made it out of the sixth inning, which is also rare. But there’s one issue, above all of his multiple problems on the mound, that is the most daunting.

Lincecum is having major trouble with velocity.

Aside from his unique delivery, Lincecum has been so unhittable because his off-speed pitches are so much tougher to hit when paired with fastballs that top out in the high-90s. Lately, his fastballs are topping out in the 89-90 mph range, and Major League hitters are teeing off on him. Hitting a fastball is the same as operating a car — slow it down 10 mph and it’s a lot easier to drive.

Having lost closer Brian Wilson for the year due to an arm injury, the Giants really need their starters to pick up the slack and pitch deeper into games. If they can’t rely on their best pitcher to go more than six innings, and leave the bullpen with a lead, Bruce Bochy’s bunch is going to have loads of trouble keeping up with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.

And Lincecum’s going to have a lot of trouble justifying that $18.25 million the Giants are paying him.

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