Tim Lincecum, who'll square off against Roy Halladay Monday night in the first game of the series against the Phillies, has struggled so far in 2012.
Badly. To the point where we recently debated whether or not to panic about his performance. Lincecum's not panicking though, and he said that the struggles are "a test" and that they are "going to make [him] stronger."
"Maybe (it's) a magnified look at just trying to be humble," Lincecum said over the weekend, via Steve Kroner of the San Francisco Chronicle. "This game is very humbling. I'm not saying that's why this is going on, like I was getting too cocky. I think it's like a test, about staying even-keeled and being mentally strong, and I think this is what it is right now.
"I think it's just going to make me stronger."
Lincecum was particularly chatty on Saturday, something he attributed to his struggles, oddly enough. The ace believes when he's scuffling on the mound, it helps him to be "reflective" through the media and discuss the problems he's having.
"I think it's just a form of, I wouldn't say venting, but just being a little bit more reflective on what you're going through," Lincecum said. "Being verbal with it for me helps me just kind of get it out there on the table so I know what I'm dealing with, instead of stirring around in my head, which is what happens to me a lot."
That's actually sage advice for anyone, not just a superstar pitcher. But for someone who gets too caught up in the mental game on the mound -- and Lincecum admitted as much in the preseason, oddly enough against the Rockies, who later pounded him -- getting those thoughts out in the public can certainly help.
Also helping? A strong performance against the best pitcher in baseball the past few years, Roy Halladay.
"I know he's going to be pitching on his 'A' game and it just makes me want to be on my 'A' game even more so," Lincecum said. "Eliminating all doubts in myself, that's the biggest thing I can do. Just go out there and have confidence in my stuff because you see guys time and time again [having conviction] in whatever pitch they're throwing that day.
"Whether it's 85 or 95 (mph), you've got to have commitment in it, and I think that's the biggest difference in having that mental edge."
If Lincecum, whose velocity has been down lately, can show enough confidence to give the Giants a strong outing in a critical April matchup against the Phils, it'll go a long way towards helping everyone's confidence in the ace.
And might mean that he can get some peace and quiet too.