Tim Lincecum's taking the mound against Jarrod Parker and the Oakland A's tonight, with the world watching and hoping he can finally flip things around and put up a strong outing.
We're not the only ones -- Lincecum himself admitted to Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports that the losses are taking their toll on him and that his current stretch of struggling is "killing" him.
"I've never gone through anything like this in my life," Lincecum said. "I've set the bar high for myself, and I know I'm not coming through. I've been wearing these (expletive) losses hard. Real hard. This game is my passion, and this is killing me. I know I'm going to come out of this eventually. I just wish I knew when."
After his recent poor start against the Mariners (five innings, five earned, six strikeouts, two walks), Nightengale reports that Lincecum called up his dad and "undraped his soul" for more than an hour over the phone.
That, coupled with the way Lincecum describes his pitching style these days -- "a wuss thrower" -- sure make it seem like his issues are mental, not physical.
"It's almost like I'm pitching backwards now," he says. "Like I'm a wuss thrower. I've got to start utilizing my fastball."
The ace and two-time Cy Young winner just doesn't have the same swagger that he had when he was piling up victories and hardware.
"It used to be, two runners on and no outs," Lincecum said. "And it was like, 'I'll get a double play and strike out the next guy.' That was the arrogance I had, knowing I could dig deep and get out of it. Now I give up a couple of walks, and it's like, 'How am I going to get out of this? Is this the inning they get me?' That doubt creeps into your mind.
"It's almost like you're waiting for something bad to happen."
He's not the only one, either. The entire Giants-watching world holds their breath when Timmy takes the mound, waiting for the other shoe to drop when he's pitching well. Of course, that's better than waking up in the middle of the night with bad-start nightmares, which Lincecum's been doing.
"I wouldn't say I'm getting accustomed to it now, but I'm learning to deal with it better," Lincecum says. "Whether it's mental or mechanic, I can deal with this. I can persevere."
On the bright side, he thinks he'll get through this. We think he'll get through this. And when he does, the Giants will be better for it.
"I know it sounds really selfish, but I want to think this team needs me," Lincecum said. "And I need it."