SAN FRANCISCO - JULY 15: Tim Lincecum #55 of the San Francisco Giants pumps his fist after the Giants got the last out of the eighth inning in their game against the New York Mets at AT&T Park on July 15, 2010 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Tim Lincecum
Don't try telling any 100-year-old baseball historians that San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum is having an off year. He is one strikeout away from winning the Major League Baseball strikeout title for the 2010 season.
That one strike is behind the Mariners' Felix Hernandez. Lincecum has 231 strikeouts on the season compared to Hernandez' 232. But NBC Sports reported Thursday that Hernandez will not pitch again this season, so Hernandez' season total will be staying put.
Lincecum, meanwhile, may or may not pitch again this season. There are three scenarios, and it's Bruce Bochy's call.
If the Giants lock up the NL West on Saturday, Bochy could elect to rest Lincecum for the NLDS opener. Timmy would then not pitch again in the regular season, and be denied the strikeout title.
If the Giants lose both Friday and Saturday, Lincecum would surely pitch Sunday in the regular season finale.
If they split and it comes down to a one-game playoff, Lincecum would pitch that playoff game Monday.
Yes, one-game playoffs do count toward regular season statistical totals.
By the numbers, Timmy is now officially baseball's most prolific young strikeout artist since they moved home plate back in 1893.
After four seasons, Lincecum has the highest career strikeout total of any fourth-year player in 117 years. Timmy's 907 strikeouts in his first four seasons are the most of any young pitcher in the modern era, passing Dwight Gooden's mark of 892, per MLB.com.
The owner of the 117-year old record was also a Giant, albeit a New York Giant in the 1890s. Amos Rusie, known as the "Hoosier Thunderbolt", threw 1,174 strikeouts over his first four seasons from 1890 to 1893. It was after Rusie's 1893 season that home plate was moved back.
If Lincecum pitches one more game this season he will not be breaking Rusie's 117-year-old record. He is 267 strikeouts short of the mark.
Lincecum would need to throw all strikeouts for a perfect game that went 90 innings in order to tie that record.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who longs for the days when big league teams had good names, like the Boston Beaneaters and the Burlington Babies.