The San Francisco Giants were ranked eleventh, recently, in a pre-2015 Major League Baseball Preview, primarily on the strength of what was portrayed as a weak starting rotation scenario. With Matt Cain on the shelf, Jake Peavy and Ryan Vogelsong both having become free agents, Thursday, and Tim Hudson turning forty, after a disheartening second half to the 2014 season, prognosticators zeroed in on the starting rotation, and announced, by virtue of the poll, that San Francisco has Madison Bumgarner and not much else.
OK, I made up the part about “not much else,” but how else would you explain the current World Series Champions being ranked eleventh, behind every single one of the teams which just participated in the postseason tournament, plus one that didn’t even get in, without assuming a perceived loss of the one element, for which the Giants are universally renowned, starting pitching? The answer is, you don’t.
Why is Matt Cain not viewed as a viable, number two pitcher on the staff? From 2007 through 2012, Cain made at least 32 starts and threw 200 innings each year, without going on the disabled list, for which he was nicknamed The Horse. Since 2012, he has gone on the DL four times.
In pitching inconsistently, the first half of 2014, Cain revealed that he was experiencing elbow issues on his throwing arm, and subsequent tests determined the problem to be bone spurs. Now spurs are a pain, they require surgery, and there is a three-month rehabilitation period, but they are emphatically not, Tommy John-surgery-type issues, and Giants fans breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Even the announcement in the latter part of August, that the Cainster had undergone surgery for bone spurs in his right ankle, with a two-month recovery time, does not pose a problem. August through January is a six-month period of time and Cain had the original surgery in July and the ankle surgery in August, ample time for him to be ready for action by the middle of February.
Oct 31, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner waves to the crowd during the World Series victory parade on Market Street. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
You see, Cain is like Madison Bumgarner, in that the postseason does not intimidate him, and as we have seen from this most recent postseason, not all players can say that, even some of the ones who were so dominant during the regular season. There’s just something about the playoffs, that brings the best out in some, but the stress in others.
Cain’s postseason credentials include that Herculean effort in 2010, during which he did not allow an earned run in over 21 innings of work, and a five-and-two-thirds’ innings, shutout effort in the National League Championship Series-clinching game, of the 2012 playoffs, against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Like fellow staffer, Madison Bumgarner, Cain is a Southern lad, raised in Alabama and Tennessee. His work ethic is impeccable, and as his Horse Moniker indicates, he is a beast.
Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain: Coming to a World Series near you in 2015.
What these two Southerners have accomplished between them already for the Giants, leaves us salivating for more.
Combine these two World Series-tested veterans with Yusmeiro Petit, and you have your Big Three postseason starters all lined up and ready to go, leaving Brian Sabean to work matters out among Tim Lincecum, Peavy, Vogelsong, or one of the triple-A Fresno products, for the fourth and fifth starters. Sabean has three to make two, unless he goes in another direction entirely, which is still fine.
The point is, Matt Cain is alive and kicking, and will be pitching for the San Francisco Giants, come April of 2015, at which time, the Giants will embark on another campaign, this one to remove the notion that the Orange and Black only win titles in even-numbered years.
It would appear that San Francisco players are getting to like those annual parades, you see, especially Hunter Pence.
Pence has talked Matt Cain into riding his scooter for the next one, and does not want to wait for 2016 to see it happen. Great success!