DETROIT - Tim Lincecum has been nothing but dominant this postseason. The starting pitcher and former Cy Young winner has pitched out of the bullpen and been brilliant, a huge weapon for the San Francisco Giants as they have gone up 3-0 in this series over the Detroit Tigers.
Yet little do many Giants fans know, but Tim Lincecum's domination this postseason nearly could have been halted by a pair of orange rubber bands.
"I just like having them on there," he said after the Giants' 2-0 win in Game 3, "it's just the way I am."
He had them on his glove wrist, and after he threw 2 1/3 innings in Game 1, officials from Major League Baseball asked him to not wear them. They were a uniform violation; pitchers aren't allowed to wear anything on their arms, which could distract the hitters.
The Tigers didn't complain; instead it was someone in the league office who monitors uniforms and informed officials in San Francisco. Lincecum wasn't fined (players rarely are) and he only received a verbal warning, but had he been superstitious, then the removal of the bands could have been disastrous.
"I'm not superstitious," he said. "not necessarily anymore."
Was he annoyed?
"The only annoyance is, Is it really making that much of a difference?" Lincecum said. "That's the only annoyance. I can see where guys can get distracted by things on people's bodies. I don't know, I just like to have things on my wrist."
And what he also seems to like is his new role. His struggles as a starter have been well-documented and since pitching out of the bullpen this posteason he's been spectacular. He's only allowed three hits and one earned run this entire postseason. And all of that has come from the bullpen, 13 innings and 17 strikeouts.
"The season's been up and down for him," left reliever Javier Lopez said, "and to be able to scrap that and go and get some big outs, I couldn't even pick a guy who could throw like that. It's pretty cool."
A big part of the reason, Lopez and others think, is that Lincecum can just let loose. He doesn't have to worry about developing a game plan.
"As a reliever you're just going in there and working out to out, and so I think that's why you're seeing his stuff being more effective," Lopez said. "And he's just attacking the zone and he's not getting caught up in any head games."
Lopez even said right now this role best suits him. Does that mean he thinks Lincecum should become a full-time reliever?
"As of right now, I do think it suits him," Lopez said. "But I do fully expect him to be starting next year."
With 13 players out there, the competition for bullpen seats has heated up. The Giants - unlike some other teams - don't have assigned seats based on rank. So it's a free-for-all. Fellow reliever Jeremy Affeldt was asked about where Lincecum has to fend for himself.
"We'll make room for him," Affeldt said. "He can have my seat if he keeps throwing like that. He can have all of 'em. He can lay down on the bench, we'll stand up."
As for Game 4, manager Bruce Bochy was non-committal. Lincecum said on Saturday night he hoped to pitch as long as he felt well, and had planned on telling Bochy that.
"I may be able to persuade him," he said.
But on Sunday, Bochy in his pregame interview session said he was hesitant.
"To be honest, I'd like to stay away from him," Bochy said. "This is a little bit of unchartered territory the way we're using him and he did go two-plus innings. I would say right now I plan on staying away from him but he may come up to [pitching coach Dave Righetti] and go, 'I feel great.'"
So far, he's looked nothing but great. Whether or not he's got those orange rubber bands on his wrist.