Name: Brad Lincoln
Position: Right-Handed Pitcher
|162 Game Avg.||5||6||4.66||55||1||126||130||70||65||18||44||95||85||1.386||9.3||1.3||3.2||6.8||2.17|
*162 Game Avg. is his career average based on a full 162-game season.
March 25, 2013 – MLB Toronto Blue Jays optioned Lincoln to Triple-A Buffalo Bisons
April 25, 2013 – MLB Toronto Blue Jays recalled Lincoln from Triple-A Buffalo Bisons
April 28, 2013 – MLB Toronto Blue Jays optioned Lincoln to Triple-A Buffalo Bisons
May 2, 2013 – MLB Toronto Blue Jays recalled Lincoln from Triple-A Buffalo Bisons
June 8, 2013 – MLB Toronto Blue Jays optioned Lincoln to Triple-A Buffalo Bisons
August 3, 2013 – MLB Toronto Blue Jays recalled Lincoln from Triple-A Buffalo Bisons
August 24, 2013 – MLB Toronto Blue Jays optioned Lincoln to Triple-A Buffalo Bisons
Alex Anthopoulos told us in January that Brad Lincoln would be stretched out in Spring Training and could be the Blue Jays “seventh starter” if necessary (h/t Shi Davidi). He was expected to start the season as a member of the Buffalo Bisons rotation but after he was tagged for 4 runs in 2/3 of an inning his first start of Spring Training the Blue Jays quickly reverted to using him out of the bullpen (h/t John Lott). He was a reliever with options so there was the chance he could be optioned back to Buffalo but if all went well the expectation for Lincoln was that he would be a versatile long-reliever for the Blue Jays most of the year.
As you can probably tell from his 2013 transactions, the Blue Jays took full advantage of Lincoln’s final year with minor league options. He started the year at Triple-A after rumors of a shoulder inflammation before the season started appeared to set him back. He appeared in five games in Buffalo and struggled in eight innings allowing four earned runs, six hits and three walks. However he did rack up 10 strikeouts during that time. He then played two games with the Blue Jays, was sent down again after struggling against the New York Yankees but was quickly called back up again for his longest stretch with the big league club, which ran from May 2nd to June 8th. His inconsistent play continued and despite striking out a nearly one batter per inning he couldn’t keep runs off the scoreboard. His stint was capped by four scoreless frames in the Blue Jays 18-inning marathon victory against the Texas Rangers on June 8th.
The great performance wasn’t enough to keep Lincoln in Toronto and when he returned to Buffalo he was quickly transitioned into the Bisons’ closer. He was very good in this role and allowed only 2 earned runs in 15 appearances to go along with five saves. He returned to the Blue Jays in August and pitched in situations ranging from extra innings to as early as the fourth inning. He had a stretch of 8.2 scoreless innings but lost his effectiveness towards the end of August and was optioned back down to Buffalo to finish the year. He wasn’t called up in September and threw his last pitch of the year on August 30, 2013.
Lincoln is out of options in 2014 so the Blue Jays won’t have the luxury of porting him back and forth between MLB and Triple-A. His stint in Toronto this year did not give him the required service time to become eligible for arbitration under Super Two status. He’s under team control until at least 2018, which is the earliest time he can become a free agent. The question remains if he’ll be consistent enough out of the bullpen to justify a spot on the 25-man active roster. The Blue Jays also are left with Dustin McGowan, J.A. Happ, Jeremy Jeffress, Luis Perez, Todd Redmond and Esmil Rogers without minor league options in 2014 (h/t Bluebird Banter) so there’s a good chance at least one player will need to be moved.
Lincoln has shown flashes that he belongs and throws a fastball in the low-90s along with a curve and split finger. But opponents chased at only 25.9% of his pitches (league average is 31%) and he had a swinging strike percentage of 8.2% (average is 9.3%). It’s tough to predict what the future will hold for Brad and in my opinion it doesn’t look like his fastball is a weapon that can be steadily relied upon at the MLB level. He’ll turn 29 next season and if he ever puts it together his versatility provides a nice option out of the bullpen but competition among the Jays relievers is fierce so if he makes it to spring he’ll have to bring his A-game if he wants to remain as a member of the Blue Jays in 2014.