There’s an ongoing debate amongst many baseball fans concerning San Francisco Giants right-hander Matt Cain.
This debate centers around the question: “What is wrong with Matt Cain?”
The answer is shockingly simple, yet the majority of fans fail to see it. There’s nothing wrong with Cain. He pitched roughly as well as he has for most of his big league career. What people are failing to understand is that 2012 was an anomaly in the pitcher’s nine years in the Major Leagues.
In 2012, Cain went 16-5 for the World Champion Giants, with a 2.79 earned run average and 193 strikeouts – all of which were career-bests. With that in mind, it’s only reasonable to assume he won’t do the same thing this season. Yet for some unescapable reason, fans expected more out of him.
Therein lies the problem.
It’s not that Cain pitched worse than he did for half of his career. It’s that people wanted more out of him as the Giants sought their third World Series in four years.
In four of Cain’s nine years in the bigs, his ERA has been above 3.50 – including this season, when he came in at an even 4.00 earned run average. He’s only ever finished more than two games above .500 twice in his career. The other seven years? Not so much. On average, he goes 12-11 each season with 30 starts, 220 innings pitched and 184 strikeouts.
He only threw 184.1 innings this season, notching 158 punchouts, but this simply indicates he didn’t locate pitches well. He’s still the same pitcher he has been for most of his career, apart from the standout 2012 campaign.
Matt Cain is a solid pitcher. On a great team, he’s a nice #2. But he’s no annual Cy Young Award contender.