San Francisco Giants save best for last: Matt Cain

You say no team has lost more games than the San Francisco Giants, 18, at this early point? Had you told me this before the season, I would have immediately pointed the finger at Matt Cain.

“The old horse couldn’t make it out of the paddock, huh?” I might have suggested sadly. After all, we have gotten accustomed to being disappointed by the Canister in the recent seasons.

“I guess Madison Bumgarner must be carrying the team,” I might have gone on. “After all…It’s what he does.” I might even have concluded, “Matt, Buddy, you were the creme de la creme, once upon a time. But fairy tales can only take you so far before reality catches up.”

Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants

Madison Bumgarner is on the shelf until after the All-Star Game.

The funny thing about fairy tales, is that they don’t follow the usual script. MadBum is actually 0-3, and his team has not won any of the four games in which he started. Furthermore, the Big Iron is on the shelf, sidelined by a self-proclaimed poor decision to go dirt-biking.

Quite possibly he will not be back until after the All-Star game.

And Matt Cain? All he has done in five starts is go 2-0, with an earned run average of 2.30. His 1.17 WHIP and opponents’ batting average of .223, are sterling. He has surrendered seven runs in 27.1 innings, four of them in his first start against the D-backs.

Cain has reinvented himself as a pitcher, the way all the great ones do. The great ones have to continue to up their game, or the inevitable loss of velocity will sink them every time. In his case Cain has replaced his four-seam fastball, with his two-seamer.

This is not breaking news; what is news to me is that Nick Hundley is the reason why. In catching Cain, April 12th, Hundley noted that the two-seam fastball had excellent sink to it. He informed Cain in no uncertain terms that they were going to forge a new path.

This path appears lined with gold.

Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants, photo by donjd2

Matt Cain has an ERA of 2.30 and a WHIP of 1.17. Photo by donjd2

Matt Cain is no stranger to the gold, as in performing at top-shelf level. His 0.00 ERA and 0.94 WHIP during the 2010 World Series are unparalleled. Tack on his perfect game from June of 2012, and his legendary consistency, and you have a master.

One month of a season does constitute a comeback; Cain has a long way to go. What he has done, however, in the face of the hurricane, is steady the ship. The longest-tenured Giant has stepped up and shouldered the team, and I like it.

I have always been on board the Cain Train, especially early on in his career. Those were the days when his team left him high and dry, when it came to scoring runs during his starts. Cain persevered and his led his team since 2005, a remarkable stat in and of itself.

By the same token, one month does not sink a team, at least not a team with as much going for it as San Francisco. Take Ty Blach, for instance, replacing MadBum in the rotation. Those are some gargantuan shoes to fill, but Blach has stepped into them nicely.

He battled Clayton Kershaw valiantly in the last series, falling 2-1. This came after he defeated the Dodger ace the first time last September, in that epic sweep of the Blue Crew. He also came back to toss seven shutout innings against the Padres, in his second start after replacing MadBum.

Or how about the aforementioned Hundley? An offseason acquisition to upgrade the back-up catching position, how valuable was his contribution?

I have not even mentioned Christian Arroyo yet. His infusion of energy has been impressive, particularly his three hits in six at-bats against Kershaw. How good is that? In 51 AB’s against the Dodger’s Demon, Brandon Belt has exactly the same number of base hits, three.

APR 27 Dodgers at Giants

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – APRIL 27: San Francisco Giants infielder Christian Arroyo gets a base hit, at AT&T Park in San Francisco, CA (Photo by Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire) 

I don’t think it says nearly as much about Belt, as it does about Arroyo. Lots of players have abominable stats against the LA legend; not many are batting .500.

What has been patently wrong so far with the Orange and Black is inconsistent starting pitching, with a couple bullpen meltdowns. Offensively, they are struggling also, but that is not an unusual state of affairs. Not for the Giants.

That being said, this is a talented club with much experience. The stepping up to the plate of first Matt Cain and then Blach, Arroyo and Hundley are just the next logical strides to correcting their horrid start.

Keep in mind that it is far better to begin mired in the muck, and rise, than to start off like the Titanic, and sink. Just examine last season if you do not believe me.