Season in Review: Matt Cain

By Stuart Jones

Matt Cain. That sentence alone would be a solid season in review article, it really would. When you think of “Matt Cain in 2012” what do you think about? If you’re playing with Richard Dawson the number one answer on the board is: “PERFECT GAME.” Interesting discussion would be what the #2-6 answers on the board would be, I don’t even know, although I’d say his one-hitter of Pittsburgh should be pretty high up there. Maybe when you think of Matt Cain this year, you also think of Matt Cain having his sixth straight year of 200+ IP, and his seventh of pitching in at least thirty-two games.

Remember that article I wrote about George Kontos and his reverse platoon splits? Well Matt Cain is the starting pitcher version of that, as LHH went .253/.321/.390 with a .314 wOBA for in 424 batters faced, while RHH in 452 batters faced those dudes went .184/.229/.333 with a .243 wOBA. True, 3 more HR were allowed by Cain to RHH than LHH (12-9), but overall, it’s also fair to say Cain didn’t mind dealing with people batting on the 1B side of the dish.

An article came out in October from Fangraphs that wasn’t so “advanced stats”-centric as some others might be, and talked about the release point and spin rate of Matt Cain’s slider, and how that made him more susceptible to the damage like he suffered in the first game of the NLDS. Paying attention to that article throughout the postseason, it didn’t appear that Cain adjusted his release point and it became pretty scary when Matt Cain was hanging nearly slider in the bottom of the sixth in Game 4 to Jhonny Peralta. Luckily, nothing came of it, and the score would stay tied at 3 until the tenth inning happened.

Going into 2013, Cain should be the ace of the staff once again no matter what Tim Lincecum does in camp. The only threat to Matt Cain’s ace-hood is Madison Bumgarner, but I don’t see Bochy going L-R-R-R-L only unless Timmy is really struggling and Zito looks decent. Cain will also start being paid like an ace, earning $20MM for the next five years through 2017. The Giants have an option on him for 2018 when Cain will enter his age 33 season, so unless the organization seeks cost-cutting and an overhaul of prospects in three to five years, you don’t need to worry about Matt Cain being traded anytime soon.

In Matt Cain we trust.