Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Cain Reaching New Heights

As awed as we Giants fans are of Matt Cain, he has accomplished something with his start today that he has never done in his career before: two consecutive starts with no walks given up. In fact, he has never had two starts where he gave up only 1 walk. There has been 8 two game sequences in his career where he had two walks (I've added the 0 walk sequence as well):
  1. Sept 4/9, 2005: 16 IP, 2 walks (1/1) with 12 strikeouts
  2. April 24/30, 2006: 13 IP, 2 walks (0/2) with 8 strikeouts
  3. Aug 3/8, 2007: 13.1 IP, 2 walks (1/1) with 14 strikeouts
  4. Aug 18/23, 2007: 14 IP, 2 walks (1/1) with 11 strikeouts
  5. Sept 15/20, 2007: 12 IP, 2 walks (0/2) with 10 strikeouts
  6. May 3/8, 2008: 13.1 IP, 2 walks (1/1) with 13 strikeouts
  7. June 9/14, 2008: 13.1 IP, 2 walks (1/1) with 17 strikeouts
  8. June 14/20, 2008: 15 IP, 2 walks (1/1) with 19 strikeouts
  9. July 24/29, 2008: 16 IP, 0 walks (0/0) with 12 strikeouts

As one can see, there has been a progression. He had one in his brief call-up in late 2005 and one early in 2006, then nothing for one year and four months (about 1.67 seasons). Then he figures things out and runs off 3 of them late in the 2007 season.

Now, he was a bit lost again in April, but then he figures something out in May and has had four of 2 walks or better since then, culminating with his first 0 walk two game start sequence.

No Walk This Way

Cain's main problem his whole professional career has been the walk. His walk rate has always been high and his strikeout rate, while good, wasn't always good enough to counter the high walk rate. However, he has been able to put together 7 2-game sequences from August 2007 to today, roughly one seasons worth of season. Those 13 games roughly represent half (40%) of the 32 or so starts Cain makes in a season. When Cain can keep his walks down, he is very dominating, for example, giving up only 1 earned run in these two games with no walks.

This shows Cain's maturation as a pitcher and how close he is to becoming one of the top pitchers in the league, joining his teammate Tim Lincecum in that category. Once he can start throwing like this regularly, he will be among the league leaders. Not that he hasn't been the past two seasons but he will be among the elites if he can pitch like this regularly.

Here is how good he can become: adding the sequence of good pitching in 2007 plus since May 2008, here are his stats: 9-11, 28 starts, 185.2 IP, 157 hits, 68 ER, 49 walks, 176 strikeouts, 15 homers. That's 3.30 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 8.5 K/9 (9.0 is excellent), 2.4 BB/9 (want below 3.0), 3.6 K/BB (where 2.4 is considered good), 0.7 HR/9 (where you want it below 1.0).

1 comment:

  1. BTW, this is something Nolan Ryan never did in his career. In fact, as unbelievable as this may seem, Ryan didn't pitch a single game with 0 walks until he was in his 40s.

    ReplyDelete

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