It's quite the demotion for Lincecum. After tallying a 10-15 record this season with a 5.18 ERA through 33 starts — including 11 combined runs allowed in his last two starts — he gave manager Bruce Bochy no choice.
Hoping to overcome an early two-game deficit to the Reds, Bochy elected to start Ryan Vogelsong in Game 3 and Barry Zito in Game 4. For the time being, Lincecum continues to be banished to the bullpen.
Regardless of the outcome of this postseason, Lincecum can take note of Zito's rollercoaster career moving forward. Once an ace in Oakland, Zito's skills plummeted upon signing with San Francisco.
During his first four seasons with the Giants, Zito amassed a 40-57 record with a 4.47 ERA. Year by year, Zito's performance continued to dip.
So much so, Bochy opted to leave Zito off the playoff roster altogether in 2010, the same year the Giants spearheaded a run to the World Series title. It was rock bottom for Zito, who was supposed to fortify the starting rotation after inking a seven-year, $126 million deal with the team.
But instead of whining about his demotion or removing his no-trade clause, Zito remained resillient and continued battling. At 34, he compiled a 15-8 record and a 4.15 ERA, the most victories in his six seasons with the Giants.
These days, Zito has somewhat regained Bochy's trust, considering he's been tapped as the Game 4 starter against Cincinnati.
That could serve as a perfect example for Lincecum. In 2010, Zito took one for the team and accepted Bochy's decision to be left off the postseason roster. And it ultimately resulted in a World Series ring.
For now, it's Lincecum's turn. Since Bochy announced his decision to slide the ex-ace into the bullpen, Lincecum has behaved professionally. The two-time Cy Young winner took the downgrade in stride, tossing two scoreless innings in Game 2.
Whether the Giants advance or get eliminated by the Reds, Lincecum knows he's capable of rebounding. After all, he watched Zito overcome adversity and receive the starting nod in the postseason — at his expense.