San Francisco Giants: Matt Cain vs. Ty Blach – Round 2

Feb 25, 2017; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain (18) throws in the first inning during a spring training game against the Chicago Cubs at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 25, 2017; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain (18) throws in the first inning during a spring training game against the Chicago Cubs at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /
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The battle for the fifth starter spot in the San Francisco Giants rotation is beginning to heat up as Matt Cain and Ty Blach make their second starts.

Bruce Bochy has put both Cain and Blach in the same games so far this spring to get a look at both against the same competition. Cain has gotten the start in both of those games, so I would assume he’s the leader in the clubhouse at this point.

However, once we take a look at how the two have performed this spring, I think we’ll find out that may not be the case anymore.

Against the Chicago Cubs on February 25, Matt Cain gave up 2 runs (1 earned) on 3 hits with no walks or strikeouts in 2 innings. Blach followed that up by allowing 1 earned run on 4 hits with no walks or strikeouts in 2 innings.

So they were both pretty equal after the first start.

Then against the Los Angeles Dodgers Cain gave up a single in the first, but was bailed out by a double-play. The pitch he got the double-play on was a horrible pitch that was left out over the middle of the plate, and the hitter drilled it, but right at the first baseman.

He started out the second inning with two quick outs, including a strikeout, but all of those pitches were waist high or higher. Then he gave up four straight hits, and all of them were right down the middle according to MLB’s Gameday App.

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I know it’s just spring training and pitchers are working on throwing strikes, but they should also be working on location — especially if you’re fighting for a job. The problem with Cain the past few years hasn’t been throwing strikes, but throwing good strikes. I don’t care what level of competition you are facing, if you’re grooving belt high fastballs in there, you’re going to get rocked.

Blach came on in the third and was able to work down in the zone, inducing three ground balls. A runner did reach on an error, so he was also able to pick up a strikeout in the inning.

He worked a clean fourth inning getting another ground ball out and a strikeout.

Blach has now given up 1 earned run on 4 hits with no walks and 3 strikeouts over 4 innings this spring, while Cain has given up 5 runs (4 earned) on 8 hits with no walks and 1 strikeout in 4 innings.

Just looking at the numbers through two starts, Blach should be the clear choice for the fifth starter. But even the eye test suggests that Blach is the better choice.

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I know management, and a lot of San Francisco Giants fans, would love to see Cain regain his old form and fit into the rotation, but at this point he’s out in my opinion.