This Tim Lincecum just won’t do

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum walks back to the dug out after the second inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field in New York City on May 9, 2010. UPI/John Angelillo Photo via Newscom

Giants fans have been spoiled, I guess. Tim Lincecum goes out and wins two Cy Young Awards in his first three seasons, yet many have found fault in his 11-5 record and 3.15 ERA heading into Tuesday night’s game against the Cubs.

What’s to be worried about? He’s only striking out one less batter per nine innings than he was last year and has the same walk rate as he did in his first Cy Young season.

He’s fine! Seriously, he’s fine.

We’re all fine.

Then Kosuke Fukudome hits a three-run, 416-foot blast into McCovey Cove off Lincecum in the first inning last night and you realize he’s not fine. He’s far from fine. He’s Kosuke-f’n-Fukudome-just-hit-a-towering-416-foot-home-run-off-him not fine.

There is no shortage of reasons why Lincecum is struggling right now: He’s getting behind hitters, his command comes and goes, he’s tinkering with his windup too much and his changeup often bounces two feet in front of home plate instead of finding Buster Posey’s catcher mitt.

He’s struggling. He needs a barber. He’s out of whack. He’s in a funk. Please cut that thing, Tim.

Call it whatever you want, but the bottom line is that Giant fans probably feel more confident heading into a Barry Zito start right now than they do Lincecum’s. And with the club clinging onto playoff aspirations, San Fran is going to need Tim Lincecum to be Tim Lincecum.

Even though the Giants have gotten major offensive contributions from Posey, Aubrey Huff and Andres Torres this year, this is a club that’s still built around pitching. They have everything they need to be dangerous in five or seven-game postseason series, but not if Lincecum can’t remedy his problems. The Braves’ pitching completely dominated the Giants’ offense during a four-game series last week, proving that San Fran is still very much prone to getting minute production from its offense.

But that’s not to say that Lincecum has to put the entire club on his shoulders. With Zito, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and youngster Madison Bumgarner, the Giants have a chance to win every night when those arms take the mound. Lincecum doesn’t need to be a Cy Young pitcher for the G-Men to make a postseason run, but they do need him to be the ace of the staff.

Anything less and the playoff drought will likely continue in the “City By the Bay.”

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