In 14 starts this season, the righty has a 6.19 ERA and has given up four runs or more in 10 outings. He has thrown more than seven innings just once.
Lineceum's fellow starters know he isn't himself. Manager Bruce Bochy knows. But the only thing they can do, Bochy said, is to keep throwing him out there every fifth day and hope he eventually finds it.
"You've got to stay hopeful. You've got no choice," Bochy said. "In a case like this, we're optimistic that Timmy's going to find it. He's too close."
In his last start, after surrendering his second solo home run in the first inning against the Mariners, Lincecum went on to retire 10 of the next 11 batters he faced before falling into a funk again in the fifth inning.
"I don't care how long he goes on, you never lose that feeling of 'Hey, I'm going to turn this around' every time you go out there," Bochy said. "It is harder for a starter, though, because they go out there every fifth day. A position player, you go out there every day."
Even with the two-time Cy Young winner having as down a year as he is, Matt Cain said the other starters aren't feeling more pressure because of Lincecum's struggles. All they can do is try to give their teammate as much support as he needs until he returns to his old form.
"I think all of us are still trying to do our thing between starts, worried about pitching every fifth day and pushing ourselves," Cain said. "But we're constantly talking to each other and trying to find ways to help each other out."