Monday, July 02, 2007

The Pain of Cain

Obviously this has been a horrible season for Matt Cain win/loss-wise - 2 wins, 9 losses - but his stats are still lookin' goood: 3.38 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 6.6 K/9, though only 1.5 K/BB. Each season, there always seem to be a pitcher who seems to be the bad luck recipient of poor offensive support and has a horrible record despite decent or better pitching performance.

I've felt but never researched deeply that given that most teams go 1-5 from ace to #5 starter, sometimes a pitcher ends up going against the best or worst pitchers of the other team, and rack up a lot of tough luck losses despite good pitching or a lot of wins despite poor pitching. I thought that it might be interesting to see who Cain has been going up against who has been good:
  • Chris Young (twice)
  • Jason Hirsh (twice)
  • Yusmeiro Petit
  • Tom Glavine
  • Dan Haren
  • Orlando Hernandez
  • Randy Johnson
  • Lenny DiNardo
  • Dice-K
  • Greg Maddux
Matt Cain's lack of offensive support is disconcerting but it is also a product of the caliber of pitchers he has faced. The pitchers above are opposing pitchers who either are good or had his season's ERA under 4 in that start or was pitching well at that point in the season after struggling earlier. That's 12 starts out of 16 where he faced a tough pitcher. The other four starts, he was 1-2 with one blown lead leading to no decision: Edgar Gonzalez, Adam Eaton, Taylor Buchholz, and Kei Igawa. However it worked, his rotation slot ended up with him facing a lot of the opposing teams's better pitchers.

Add on top of that, there were 3 leads that he handed off to the relievers and they lost it for him. He would be 5-9 right now if that didn't happen. Then there is his 2-0 loss and his two 1-0 losses. Turn those into wins and he's 8-6 right now. Only one of those one things happening and he's probably around .500 right now and not getting any questions, but like dripping water, they add up over time to one big wet mess as the proverbial straw breaks the camel's back.

Learning the Ropes

This season is fast becoming one of development, so for Cain, he's learning the pain of being the lead-dog in the pitching rotation, of having to face so many good pitchers and figuring out how to out-duel them. You are going to face a lot of the other teams's best pitchers when you are the ace or #2 starter, and that's something he's going to have to get used to.

So he's going to have to dig deep down and decide whether he's going to be like Dave Stewart and rise to the occassion or Roger Clemens and somehow come up short. Stewart and Clemens battles were one of the great pairups when they were at the top of their games, and Cain seem to have that maddog competitive attitude that Stewart had, that enabled Stewart to come up on top when facing Clemens.

I've been impressed with how he has been handling the losses, at least publicly, and hope that this will invigorate him for a great second half run after the All-Star break, similar to last year. He seems to learn well and quickly, so I hope that the Giants don't fall for temptation and trade Morris away. I think he has a lot to impart to our core young pitchers, Lowry, Cain, Lincecum, Sanchez, that will help them down the line, much like how Morris learned so much from his deceased friend and his friend's words live on in him. And they will pass it on, hopefully, to the next generation of Giants starting pitching.

1 comment:

  1. Welcome back, Martin. I may have put this info in one of the blogs while you were away. But now, with talk heating up about trading Lowry or Morris and promoting Sanchez to the rotation, I want to make sure I give you the info and see what you think.

    Lowry
    vs LH: .95 WHIP; 260 OBP; 185BA
    vs RH 1.51 353 261
    (parenthetically, Lowry's ERA is, home 2.45, 4.66. Something to say about a guy who does very well at home).

    Sanchez
    vs LH .83 WHIP; 239 OBP; 103 BA
    vs RH 2.00 438 294

    Unfortunately, these splits are for the year, I don't know where to get them just for June. But waht concerns me is that Sanchez seems to have real difficulties with RH hitters. If he is a RP, you can choose his spots. If he is a SP, managers will stack their lineups and he'll be facing a steady diet of RH hitters - which clould be ugly. Well, game time, gotta go.

    ReplyDelete

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