Friday, September 15, 2006

Kruk sez: Cain Reminds Him of Seaver, Nolan

On his KNBR morning show gig today, Kruk was discussing Cain - again noting how Cain can get out hitters even when he only has his fastball - and noted how much Cain reminds him of Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan.

The discussion was about how Cain was different from the well-known Giants pitchers from history. Brian Murphy sadly did not know that Marichial's key to pitching was being able to throw his fastball from multiple angles, but did note astutely that Cain is unlike other Giants pitchers of the past like Gaylord Perry, Krukow, Swift, Burkett (my memory fuzzy here on list, these names were all noted at some point or other in the talk). Kruk noted that he had to fool hitters with his location to get them out, in, out, up, down.

That got me thinking, is Cain really the first pure fastballer we have had? Christy Mathewson made his name with his "fadeaway" pitch, which is the screwball that Carl Hubbell threw that resulted in his arm being permanently twisted when he retired. Marichial had his arm angles. Perry had his, um, special pitch. Most of the Giants pitching greats had a specialty pitch that they used to get hitters out, none were pure fireballers like Cain.

Montefusco did not come up in the conversation, which is too bad, Kruk might have actually seen him pitch and could have given us his view, but obviously while he was huge to Giants fans like me from the early to mid-70's, he's just a footnote to history for most baseball fans, and a trivia answer for most Giants fans (Who pitched the Giants last no-hitter?). And while he struck out a lot of hitters, I never saw much written about his fastball, how it compared to others of his day.

Why Cain So Good Now vs. Start: Confidence

Anyway, back to Cain. Murphy then asked Krukow a good question: what was the difference between the Cain suffering mightily in the early season and the dominating Cain today? Kruk said something I had heard before but that I had forgotten: the difference was basically confidence, confidence in his fastball, confidence that he could handle MLB hitters. Kruk felt Cain gave hitters too much credit and went away from the way he was pitching to get him up here, throwing his secondary pitches early in the count. But now he knows his fastball cannot be hit by hitters and so he goes for the kill from the start of each count. And when he got his curveball and slider going too, like he did yesterday, then the other team is really in trouble! And Kruk said that now that Cain has confidence, he is going to be like this for the rest of his career.

Krukow also noted, when asked what he thought about leaving in Cain to pitch the 9th last night, he said that he would have loved to see Cain in there and learn how to finish games, but understands the concern over pitch counts. However, and here's where the Seaver/Nolan reference came in, he thought Cain has the build to be a 150 pitch pitcher, a pitcher like Seaver and Ryan. I think that generally people worry too much about pitch count too, but understand the concern over young pitcher's arms, but if you assume that nobody can handle it, then by default no one ever will. But that's probably the old fogey in me talking, I still remember when pitchers thought it was normal to have a complete game, not a rarity.

I still would prefer to have Cain over any of the other young pitchers that others I have seen trooling over. I guess that's the fan in me talking, as I haven't done any statistical comparison and wouldn't be able to compare each pitcher's repertoise, but from what I've read and seen how they perform, I would put the excitement level of when Cain pitches up there with any of the other pitchers. I think he'll be the first of any of those young pitchers to throw a no-hitter, which is not a stretch to say, look at all the 1 and 2 hitters he has thrown already and he's not even 22 yet. I'll say again what I've said before: barring injury, Cain will be the face of the Giants for the forseeable future, hopefully taking us to the final payment for the park in 2018, if not later.

4 comments:

  1. Yes, confidence is big, especially wne it = confidence to throw strikes as opposed to fear of throwing strikes. But, to me, equally important in Cain's development is the development of his off speed stuff. Now, I don't get to watch enough games to really be positive in my assessment, but my impression is that Cain is now throwing off speed pitches - 1) early in the count and 2) for strikes, so the hitters can't sit on his fast ball.

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  2. BTW, you will see my comment on Lefty's blog, I'm feeling very abondoned by him at a crucial time of the season - so, obviously, you have to take up the slack. This mornings effort is a valiant - and appreciated - effort.
    One more thing. As it stands now, the Giants will throw Cain, Schmidt, Morris at the Dodgers at home to end the season. I know you have given us the #s on the pitchers to date. If we have to win that last game, do you think we pitch Morris?

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  3. I can see development of his secondary pitches adding to his development because the implication from Krukow's explanation is that Cain was throwing secondary pitches for balls early in the year and falling into a hole, so development is key to avoiding that type of trap.

    I just counted out the calendar and if the rotation continues as is, and I assume it will since the Giants would rather start Hennessey today than move the pitcher's up, the season ends with Lowry, Cain, Schmidt starting the Dodger's series, in that order. I think that is about as ideal as possible for us at the moment.

    I like Morris but given his ups and downs this season, while I have no problem having him as one of the mules in the rotation eatting up innings regularly during the season, if it was the last game of the season for all the marbles, I would rather have Schmidt going up than Morris, I would not want to start him, I would want Schmidt first, Cain second.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm no pitcher, coach, or pitching expert, but I have seen Cain pitch almost every one of his starts. Allfrank is right in that the development of his offspeed stuff has helped him tremendously.

    However, there are oftentimes pitches I see him throw that don't look like breaking balls, and don't seem to be change-ups. He seems to be tinkering a bit with his fastball, learning when to take a little off of it (I think). I've seen those particular pitches range on the radar between 88/89-92/93. Perhaps its some sort of a two seamer?

    I don't know, but in any case: the success of Cain has me really excited. As young as he is, and with two good veterans in the rotation, I actually consider him to be our "ace". At least for the moment.

    Lowry, Cain, and Schmidt would be the best 1-2-3 we could throw at the Dodgers, and I really look forward to that series. Hopefully the we will not have already been eliminated by then.

    Go GIANTS!

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