Raising Cain: The New Ace Of The San Francisco Giants
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Wednesday February 20, 2013
By Kyle Holland (MLB Reports Writer): Follow @TheKHolland13
On Saturday, February 16, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced, to no one’s surprise at all, that Clayton Kershaw would be the Opening Day starter for the third straight year. You didn’t have to be a baseball expert to see that one coming. What may have possibly come as a surprise to some is who his opponent will be on April 1 at Dodger Stadium.
Bruce Bochy announced Monday, February 18 that Matt Cain will be making his first career Opening Day start. For the last 4 years Tim Lincecum took the hill on Opening Day. The 2 years before that was Barry Zito and the 2 before him? Jason Schmidt. That brings us all the way back to when Matt Cain first suited up in 2005. Matt Cain has had a brilliant career since debuting in 2005 with the Giants. Throughout these fantastic years though, Matt Cain has been unable to call himself the ace of the Giants staff.
Matt Cain Perfect Game All 27 Outs:
In 2006, the Giants ace was Jason Schmidt – as he finished an unimpressive 11-9 with a 3.59 ERA. The entire rotation was unimpressive as Cain, only 21 at the time, was the Giants next best finishing 13-12 with a 4.15 ERA. He was by no means an ace, as he was still young and needed a lot of work. In 2007, the team didn’t really have a proven #1, with the entire pitching staff being atrocious. Only Matt Morris was over 30 and Lincecum was just getting his start - finishing 7-5 with a 4.00 ERA. Barry Zito was supposed to bring his #1 stuff to SF, but he sure didn’t pitch like it in 2007, finishing 11-13 posting a 4.53 ERA.
From 2008 until 2011 – it was all Tim Lincecum. This includes a Cy Young Award in 2008, with a record of 18-5 and a 2.62 ERA. In fact, Lincecum was the only starter to finish with a winning record for the Giants in 2008. In 2009 Lincecum was your first sight of the Giants as he was the Giants Opening Day starter. He wound up with another very impressive record of 15-7, also putting up a 2.48 ERA, even better than just a year prior. It was practically a repeat of the 2008 season, as he found the Cy Young Award in his grip again.
2010 comes around, and Matt Cain has had plenty of experience in the big leagues as has ace Lincecum. The slender man from Washington, had another exciting year, finishing 16-10 with a 3.43 ERA (significantly more than the 2 previous years,) but still impressive. The same time that this was happening, Matt Cain was also turning heads on the mound. As a matter of fact, Cain had a better ERA than Lincecum in the same amount of Games Started. Sure, Cain’s record wasn’t as good as Lincecum’s (at 13-11), but people have realized it’s not the W-L record that defines how good you are as a pitcher, it’s how you throw on the mound. You also need run support for a good record. Cain was routinely in the bottom of 10 of the National League for that very category. The two gentlemen aided the club to their 1st World Series Title since moving from New York.
2011 was another hard year to decipher the ace of the staff. The Giants pitching staff got no run support what so ever. The offense, (without Buster Posey for the majority of the year,) could only manage to put up 570 runs throughout the year. The pitching allowed more runs, 578, so the fact the Giants even ended up with a winning record was astonishing. At the end of the year, Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum’s stats were pretty equal.
Now 2012 comes around. Like the last 3 years, Tim Lincecum gets the nod on Opening Day. That was the start of his disaster season. Lincecum got lit up all year long. At points when it seemed he was turning it around, it ended up with more disappointment. At the year’s end Lincecum has suffered his second straight losing season with a 10-15 record and a career high, by over a full run, 5.18 ERA. When the playoffs came around Bruce Bochy was forced with making the tough decision of taking the 2 Time Cy Young Award winner out of the rotation and moving him to the pen. His 2.74 ERA in 2011 jumped 2.44 Runs in 2012.
While Lincecum was having a season he’d like to forget, Cain was proving why he is the ace of the San Francisco Giants. After years of being outperformed, Cain not only pitched his way into his third All-Star Game, he finished 6th in the Cy Young Award Voting. The Giants could not have asked for a better summer out of him – as he finished with a career bests in record (16-5 – .762) and ERA (2.79). He also went 2-2 in the Post Season starting 3 of the series clinching games. We also can’t forget that in June of Cain’s spectacular campaign he tossed a Perfect Game against the Houston Astros. In the home opener at AT&T Park on April.13/2012, he also threw a 1 hitter versus the Pirates (with the only blemish being a single given up to the pitcher in the top of the 6th).
The one constant in the Giants pitching staff since 2009, Tim Lincecum, was the one guy in the rotation the Giants couldn’t count on in 2012. Barry Zito had a rebound year in 2012, showing everyone that he deserved to be on the playoff roster, the same one Bruce Bochy left him off of in 2010. Madison Bumgarner also continued his great young career, pitching his way to a 16-11 record – and a 3.37 ERA. He’s showing how good he will be in the Giants rotation the future. Ryan Vogelsong’s incredible story kept moving forward as he hurled a 14-9 record, with a 3.37 ERA – showing how he really is “Vogelstrong.”
With the announcement coming on Monday that Cain is going to be taking the hill on Opening Day it seems he has finally being called the ace of the staff. He is better than Zito and Vogelsong no doubt, and Bumgarner hasn’t completely proven himself yet. Lincecum is also in the last year of his contract – and might see his least season in the Bay Area. Matt Cain is signed through the 2018.
If Cain can pitch like he has the last couple years, 2012 especially, he will be the Giants’ ace for a while to come. Being in the same league as the Dodgers, Cain definitely has a chance to solidify himself as one of the best pitchers in the game. Facing a lineup as spectacular as the Dodgers is going to be tough. They are expected to win the NL West as they have the highest payroll in MLB history and the best offense in the league. Cain has as early as Opening Day – in order to prove he is good enough to take down this monster of a team. This would make an early statement that the defending World Series Champions are not going to back down to anyone this year!
(*The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com*)
A big thank-you goes out to our Baseball Writer Kyle Holland for preparing today’s featured article. Kyle is a life long baseball fan outside of Boston. He is a sophomore in high school has played baseball since he was 5. Although growing up in one of the best baseball towns in the major leagues, he has been a Giants fan since 2009. He credits his aunt with the Giants being his favorite team as she lives in San Francisco. Some of his favorite players include Buster Posey, Stephen Drew, Trevor Bauer, Stephen Strasburg, and Minor Leaguer Danny Hultzen. You can find Kyle on Twitter Follow @TheKHolland13
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Posted on February 20, 2013, in MLB Player Profiles, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged 2008 Cy Young Award, 2009 Cy Young Award, 2010 World Series, 2012 MLB All-Star Game, 2012 nlcs, 2012 NLDS, 2012 world series, @TheKholland13 on twitter, at and t park, barry zito, bruce bochy, buster posey, clayton kershaw, houston astros, jason Schmidt, Kyle Holland, los angeles dodgers, madison bumgarner, matt cain, Matt Morris, NL ALL-Star, nl west, pittsburgh pirates, ryan vogelsong, san francisco giants, tim lincecum. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.