Portrait of Matt Cain

Matt Cain PGiants

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2019 Projections (Preseason PECOTA - seasonal age 34)
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Birth Date10-1-1984
Height6' 3"
Weight230 lbs
Age35 years, 0 months, 18 days
WARP Summary

MLB Statistics

Historical (past-seasons) WARP is now based on DRA..
cFIP and DRA are not available on a by-team basis and display as zeroes(0). See TOT line for season totals of these stats.
Multiple stints are are currently shownClick to hide.
2005 SFN MLB 7 7 46.3 2 1 0 24 19 30 4 99 4.7 3.7 0.8 5.8 0% .156 0.93 4.04 2.33 115 4.66 100.2 0.4
2006 SFN MLB 32 31 190.7 13 12 0 157 87 179 18 89 7.4 4.1 0.8 8.4 0% .263 1.28 3.91 4.15 93 3.56 72.4 4.7
2007 SFN MLB 32 32 200.0 7 16 0 173 79 163 14 96 7.8 3.6 0.6 7.3 0% .278 1.26 3.71 3.65 93 3.57 73.9 4.8
2008 SFN MLB 34 34 217.7 8 14 0 206 91 186 19 95 8.5 3.8 0.8 7.7 0% .297 1.36 3.87 3.76 102 4.32 92.2 3.0
2009 SFN MLB 33 33 217.7 14 8 0 184 73 171 22 92 7.6 3.0 0.9 7.1 0% .263 1.18 3.84 2.89 94 3.57 76.7 4.9
2010 SFN MLB 33 33 223.3 13 11 0 181 61 177 22 90 7.3 2.5 0.9 7.1 0% .252 1.08 3.66 3.14 94 3.32 75.0 5.1
2011 SFN MLB 33 33 221.7 12 11 0 177 63 179 9 90 7.2 2.6 0.4 7.3 0% .260 1.08 2.87 2.88 83 2.93 68.1 5.6
2012 SFN MLB 32 32 219.3 16 5 0 177 51 193 21 92 7.3 2.1 0.9 7.9 0% .259 1.04 3.43 2.79 86 3.02 69.3 5.5
2013 SFN MLB 30 30 184.3 8 10 0 158 55 158 23 100 7.7 2.7 1.1 7.7 0% .260 1.16 3.90 4.00 97 3.47 83.1 3.3
2014 SFN MLB 15 15 90.3 2 7 0 81 32 70 13 100 8.1 3.2 1.3 7.0 0% .265 1.25 4.55 4.18 99 4.21 103.1 0.7
2015 SFN MLB 13 11 60.7 2 4 0 71 20 41 12 88 10.5 3.0 1.8 6.1 0% .304 1.50 5.56 5.79 112 5.54 129.4 -0.3
2016 SFN MLB 21 17 89.3 4 8 0 103 32 72 16 94 10.4 3.2 1.6 7.3 41% .321 1.51 5.17 5.64 104 5.37 118.9 0.0
2017 SFN MLB 27 23 124.3 3 11 0 157 49 75 18 90 11.4 3.5 1.3 5.4 44% .329 1.66 5.08 5.43 111 5.92 126.0 -0.5

Statistics for All Levels

'opp' stats - Quality of opponents faced - have been moved and are available only as OPP_QUAL in the Statistics reports now.
Minor league stats are currently shownClick to hide.
2003 HAG A SAL 14 14 74.0 4 4 0 57 24 90 5 6.9 2.9 0.6 10.9 0% .291 1.09 2.77 2.55 0 0.00 0.0
2004 SJO A+ CLF 13 13 72.7 7 1 0 58 17 89 5 7.2 2.1 0.6 11.0 0% .301 1.03 3.02 1.86 0 0.00 0.0
2004 NRW AA EAS 15 15 86.0 6 4 0 73 40 72 7 7.6 4.2 0.7 7.5 0% .264 1.31 4.13 3.35 0 0.00 0.0
2005 SFN MLB NL 7 7 46.3 2 1 0 24 19 30 4 99 4.7 3.7 0.8 5.8 0% .156 0.93 4.04 2.33 115 4.66 100.2
2005 FRE AAA PCL 26 26 145.7 10 5 0 118 73 176 22 79 7.3 4.5 1.4 10.9 0% -.348 1.31 4.66 4.39 95 3.61 71.1
2006 SFN MLB NL 32 31 190.7 13 12 0 157 87 179 18 89 7.4 4.1 0.8 8.4 0% .263 1.28 3.91 4.15 93 3.56 72.4
2007 SFN MLB NL 32 32 200.0 7 16 0 173 79 163 14 96 7.8 3.6 0.6 7.3 0% .278 1.26 3.71 3.65 93 3.57 73.9
2008 SFN MLB NL 34 34 217.7 8 14 0 206 91 186 19 95 8.5 3.8 0.8 7.7 0% .297 1.36 3.87 3.76 102 4.32 92.2
2009 SFN MLB NL 33 33 217.7 14 8 0 184 73 171 22 92 7.6 3.0 0.9 7.1 0% .263 1.18 3.84 2.89 94 3.57 76.7
2010 SFN MLB NL 33 33 223.3 13 11 0 181 61 177 22 90 7.3 2.5 0.9 7.1 0% .252 1.08 3.66 3.14 94 3.32 75.0
2011 SFN MLB NL 33 33 221.7 12 11 0 177 63 179 9 90 7.2 2.6 0.4 7.3 0% .260 1.08 2.87 2.88 83 2.93 68.1
2012 SFN MLB NL 32 32 219.3 16 5 0 177 51 193 21 92 7.3 2.1 0.9 7.9 0% .259 1.04 3.43 2.79 86 3.02 69.3
2013 SFN MLB NL 30 30 184.3 8 10 0 158 55 158 23 100 7.7 2.7 1.1 7.7 0% .260 1.16 3.90 4.00 97 3.47 83.1
2014 SFN MLB NL 15 15 90.3 2 7 0 81 32 70 13 100 8.1 3.2 1.3 7.0 0% .265 1.25 4.55 4.18 99 4.21 103.1
2015 SFN MLB NL 13 11 60.7 2 4 0 71 20 41 12 88 10.5 3.0 1.8 6.1 0% .304 1.50 5.56 5.79 112 5.54 129.4
2015 RIC AA EAS 1 1 3.7 0 0 0 3 1 2 0 79 7.4 2.5 0.0 4.9 0% .250 1.09 2.99 4.91 108 4.15 90.9
2015 SAC AAA PCL 5 3 19.7 1 2 0 18 4 22 2 88 8.2 1.8 0.9 10.1 0% .296 1.12 3.44 3.20 81 3.06 67.2
2016 SFN MLB NL 21 17 89.3 4 8 0 103 32 72 16 94 10.4 3.2 1.6 7.3 41% .321 1.51 5.17 5.64 104 5.37 118.9
2016 SJO A+ CAL 1 1 4.0 0 1 0 10 3 2 1 131 22.5 6.8 2.3 4.5 42% .500 3.25 8.95 20.25 123 9.20 203.1
2016 SAC AAA PCL 2 2 10.7 1 1 0 11 4 6 1 85 9.3 3.4 0.8 5.1 42% .286 1.41 5.22 5.06 116 5.34 117.9
2016 GIA Rk AZL 1 1 3.3 0 0 0 3 0 6 1 110 8.1 0.0 2.7 16.2 71% .333 0.90 4.41 5.40 74 1.05 23.2
2017 SFN MLB NL 27 23 124.3 3 11 0 157 49 75 18 90 11.4 3.5 1.3 5.4 44% .329 1.66 5.08 5.43 111 5.92 126.0

Plate Discipline

YEAR Pits Zone% Swing% Contact% Z-Swing% O-Swing% Z-Contact% O-Contact% SwStr%
2008 3419 0.5291 0.4694 0.7813 0.6252 0.2944 0.8311 0.6624 0.2187
2009 3268 0.5367 0.4746 0.7872 0.6100 0.3177 0.8570 0.6320 0.2128
2010 3474 0.5176 0.4781 0.7911 0.6346 0.3103 0.8624 0.6346 0.2089
2011 3468 0.4810 0.4645 0.7753 0.6307 0.3106 0.8460 0.6422 0.2247
2012 3336 0.5009 0.4688 0.7717 0.6427 0.2943 0.8305 0.6429 0.2283
2013 2909 0.5043 0.4655 0.7939 0.6360 0.2920 0.8757 0.6128 0.2061
2014 1429 0.4850 0.4465 0.7931 0.6046 0.2976 0.8544 0.6758 0.2069
2015 991 0.4682 0.4662 0.8009 0.6552 0.2998 0.8816 0.6456 0.1991
2016 1559 0.4894 0.4387 0.7778 0.5911 0.2927 0.8492 0.6395 0.2222
2017 2084 0.5024 0.4237 0.8720 0.5969 0.2488 0.9120 0.7752 0.1280

Injury History  —  No longer being updated

Last Update: 12/31/2014 23:59 ET

Date On Date Off Transaction Days Games Side Body Part Injury Severity Surgery Date Reaggravation
2014-09-27 2014-09-27 On-Alr 0 0 Right Ankle Surgery Bone Spur 2014-09-27
2014-07-11 - 60-DL - - Right Elbow Surgery Bone Chips - Present for 10 Years 2014-08-12
2014-05-22 2014-06-06 15-DL 15 14 Right Thigh Strain Hamstring - -
2014-04-24 2014-05-10 15-DL 16 14 Right Fingers Laceration Index Finer In Kitchen Accident - -
2013-08-23 2013-09-07 15-DL 15 14 Right Forearm Contusion Batted Ball - -
2013-02-24 2013-02-28 Camp 4 0 Right Lower Leg Contusion Batted Ball - -
2012-06-18 2012-06-18 DTD 0 0 Left Forearm Contusion - -
2011-02-28 2011-03-14 Camp 14 0 Right Elbow Inflammation -
2009-07-12 2009-07-19 DTD 7 3 Right Elbow Contusion -
2008-05-30 2008-05-30 DTD 0 0 Groin Contusion Batted Ball -
2008-05-03 2008-05-03 DTD 0 0 Right Thigh Soreness Hamstring -


Year Team Salary
2018 SFN $
2017 SFN $20,833,333
2016 SFN $20,833,333
2015 SFN $20,833,333
2014 SFN $20,833,333
2013 SFN $20,833,333
2012 SFN $15,833,333
2011 SFN $7,333,333
2010 SFN $4,583,333
2009 SFN $2,900,000
2008 SFN $700,000
2007 SFN $400,000
2006 SFN $328,000
12 yrPrevious$136,244,664
12 yrTotal$136,244,664


Service TimeAgentContract Status
12 y 38 dRick Landrum, Landon Williams6 years/$127.5M (2012-17), 2018 option

  • 6 years/$127.5M (2012-17), plus 2018 option. Signed extension with San Francisco 4/2/12, replacing final year of previous deal. Largest-ever contract for right-handed pitcher. $5M signing bonus. 12:$15M, 13:$20M, 14:$20M, 15:$20M, 16:$20M, 17:$20M, 18:$21M option, $7.5M buyout. 2018 option guaranteed if Cain 1) pitches 200 innings in 2017 or 400 innings in 2016-17 and 2) is not on the disabled list at the end of the 2017 season with an elbow or shoulder injury to his right arm. If option does not vest, it becomes a club option. Award bonuses: $50,000 each for Gold Glove, Silver Slugger. $0.1M for All-Star. $0.15M for LCS MVP. $0.2M for WS MVP. $0.25M for MVP ($0.15M for 2nd in vote, $0.1M for 3rd, $75,000 for 4th, $50,000 for 5th). $0.5M for Cy Young ($0.25M for 2nd place, $0.1M for 3rd, $75,000 for 4th, $50,000 for 5th). $1M for subsequent Cy Young awards. Retired 10/1/17.
  • 3 years/$27.25M (2010-12). Signed extension with San Francisco 3/28/10, replacing final season in previous deal. $1M signing bonus (due 2011). 10:$4.25M, 11:$7M, 12:$15M. Rank in Cy Young vote could increase 2011 and 2012 salaries by $0.5M each. Annual performance bonuses: $50,000 for 225 IP. Limited no-trade protection (may block deals to 8 clubs).
  • 4 years/$9M (2007-10), plus 2011 club option. Signed extension with San Francisco 3/07. $1M signing bonus. 07:$0.4M, 08:$0.7M, 09:$2.65M, 10:$4.25M, 11:$6.25M club option. 2011 option may vest based on starts, IP and Cy Young results. 2011 option does not vest if Cain finishes 2010 season on DL with right arm injury (except option may vest if Cain wins 2010 Cy Young or has 60 starts or 400 IP 2009-10). Performance bonuses: $0.2M with 32 games started or 210 IP in '09, $0.4M with 32 games started or 210 IP in 2010.
  • 1 year/$0.328M (2006). Re-signed by San Francisco 3/06.
  • 1 year (2005). Contract purchased by San Francisco 8/05.
  • Drafted by San Francisco 2002 (1-25) (Houston HS, Germantown, Tenn.). $1.375M signing bonus.

2019 Preseason Forecast

Last Update: 1/27/2017 12:35 ET

90o 7.4 0 0 10 10 49.2 45 16 33 6 .264 1.25 3.91 4.36 -6.1 -0.7
80o 6.3 0 0 9 9 43.6 43 15 30 6 .277 1.33 4.28 4.77 -7.3 -0.8
70o 5.5 0 0 8 8 39.8 41 14 27 6 .287 1.40 4.56 5.08 -7.9 -0.9
60o 4.9 0 0 7 7 36.5 39 14 25 5 .295 1.46 4.79 5.35 -8.3 -0.9
50o 4.4 0 0 7 7 33.6 38 13 23 5 .303 1.52 5.02 5.6 -8.6 -0.9
40o 3.9 0 0 6 6 30.7 36 13 21 5 .311 1.57 5.25 5.86 -8.7 -0.9
30o 3.4 0 0 5 5 27.7 34 12 19 5 .320 1.64 5.50 6.13 -8.6 -0.9
20o 2.8 0 0 5 5 24.3 31 11 17 4 .330 1.72 5.79 6.47 -8.4 -0.9
10o 2.1 0 0 4 4 19.7 27 9 13 4 .344 1.83 6.21 6.94 -7.8 -0.8
Weighted Mean4.3007733.03713225.3021.504.995.57-8.3-0.9

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BP Annual Player Comments

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BP Articles

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BP Chats

2017-04-28 13:30:00 (link to chat)Ok, so sorry about the quality of the players in this Q, but 15-team, 30 man roster... Thoughts on Nate Karns so far? Would you drop him for JC Ramirez, Miguel Gonzalez, Derek Holland, Matt Cain, Erasmo, Shields, Brett Anderson or Nolasco? What type of FAAB bid?
(Craij's brother from another mother from Sandwich, UK)
Yeah I'd dump Karns pretty easily. I'd probably opt for either Gonzalez or Nolasco, as tepid as those waters are. (Craig Goldstein)
2017-02-02 13:00:00 (link to chat)Jacob Degrom has been pretty easily been a top 7 SP over the last 3 years. Why does it seem like he's never mentioned during the best/top 10 SPs convo? (Career ERA+ 138)
(Sammy from NY)
I think it's because we all thought he was going to be bad, haha. I think typically, people hate admitting they were wrong, and that comes out in baseball all too often in the discourse of "Well look, he's gonna regress." Think of it like pre-decline Matt Cain -- I think deGrom has proved everything he has to, and should soon be getting Cy Young mentions and list nods; I just think he had to fight against all of us kind of rolling our eyes at his early success to do it. (Trevor Strunk)
2016-04-14 20:00:00 (link to chat)Have we written off Matt Cain too soon? How deep a league to safely roster him?
(Rob from Alaska)
He's definitely rosterable in standard 5x5 23-man $260 NL-only auction leagues. He went for $5 in my NL-only keeper league that auctioned on Sunday, so he's not just an interchangeable $1 guy i those formats, either. Be ready to cut him if he starts setting fire to your rate stats. However unlikely, a former near-ace has a better chance of reverting to form or close to it than a pitcher who has never shown above-average production over the course of a full season. (Scooter Hotz)
2015-06-02 18:00:00 (link to chat)With contact rates worse than Junior Lake and Matt Cain, how can we expect Joey Gallo to succeed here? Is it just one of those things where stats don't tell the whole story or what?
(Albert from NYC)
We can project him to succeed because of the extreme, 80 power and the adjustments he's made throughout his career when it comes to his pitch recognition. This is not a player that will ever compete for a batting title and he's going to strike out a fair amount but he has the secondary skills to succeed at the major league level. (Mauricio Rubio)
2015-05-13 13:00:00 (link to chat)In my Yahoo league I am building for next year and thereafter. My roster is Russell Martin, Kendrys Morales, Josh Harrison, Brock Holt, Brett Gardner, Dexter Fowler, Gregory Polanco, Coco Crisp, Carlos Ruiz, Travis Snider, Kyle (and Corey) Seager, Jason Heyward, Carlos Correa, Desmond Jennings, Javier Baez, Matt Harvey, Carlos Martinez, Jimmy Nelson, Edinson Volquez, Jonathan Paplebon, Chris Heston, Noah Syndergaard, Lucas Giolito, Julio Urias, Jose Berrios, Matt Cain and Sean Doolittle. 8 keepers allowed. Comments? Suggestions?
(TimLandry from Montreal Quebec Canada)
Keep Matt Harvey eight times. (Christopher Crawford)
2015-04-16 17:00:00 (link to chat)Thoughts on Giants rotation and when/if we might see Yusmeiro Petit?
(wml2000 from NYC)
After Madison Bumgarner it looks really thin, though Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson could certainly surprise us. Chris Heston has shown some velocity improvement and could be better than we were expecting, but I still see him as a back end guy. Tim Lincecum's velo is really down and while the deception is better, I don't trust him much. Who knows when Matt Cain's coming back? I'd love to see Petit in the rotation, but it could be a while if Heston holds up. I'll guess June. (Mike Gianella)
2015-02-13 19:00:00 (link to chat)How do you like Matt Cain as far as ERA over the next couple of years? Mid to high 3 kind of guy?
(DS from LA)
Mid 3s is the hope with that park, but he hasn't gotten the job done now for two years. High 3s to 4 is realistic, yes. (Mike Gianella)
2015-02-06 13:00:00 (link to chat)Do any of Cliff Lee, Matt Cain, or Mat Latos figure to return anywhere close to their prior form coming off their injuries from last season?
(Kingpin from Grinnell, IA)
Cain and Latos have to prove to use they can pitch as they age. Lee already has, so I'm a bit less concerned about him. (Harry Pavlidis)
2014-12-18 15:00:00 (link to chat)With offense at a premium, I went to spend as much money on hitters as possible in the auction this year. (8-team, NL-only, standard 5x5 keeper league, $260 auction budget.) With that in mind, I'm going to try to spend an average of $5 per pitcher. #1 - do you agree with that concept? #2 - Should I then try to target buy low guys coming off injuries, like Cliff Lee, Matt Cain, Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, etc.?
(Kingpin from Grinnell, IA)
I think it's fine to target hitters, but I hesitate to endorse the idea of strict limits on pitching totals. I tend to play a little looser in auctions and see what comes to me in terms of value, because it helps to be able to pivot if things don't play out the way you foresaw. That said I think targeting injured players is a fine strategy but I'd be especially careful with guys coming off their second TJ (Craig Goldstein)
2014-06-27 14:00:00 (link to chat)What pitchers would you be targeting as buys/sells right now?
(Shawnykid23 from CT)
The buys: Justin Verlander, Matt Cain, Doug Fister
The sells: Johnny Cueto, Scott Kazmir, Garrett Richards (Doug Thorburn)
2014-05-29 19:30:00 (link to chat)What do you think about Matt Cain as a buy low in a 14 team mixed? I feel like he's almost a forgotten man.
(Jake from Kalamazoo)
If you can buy very low, yes, but Cain isn't filling me with confidence this year. Which sucks, because I grabbed him in a ton of drafts this preseason. (Ben Carsley)
2014-05-28 14:15:00 (link to chat)What do you make of Matt Cain at this point in his career? I want to believe he's better than his numbers from the last season and a half.
(Jake from Kalamazoo)
I don't think there's any reason to worry much about Cain, as long as he can stay away from sandwiches. His peripherals were fine last year (and even his surface stats were fantastic in the second half), and it's not like he's been that bad or lost stuff this season. The rise in HR/FB rate makes you wonder whether his command has slipped, but it's still a fairly small sample, given how long that takes to stabilize. He's okay. He's Cain. (Ben Lindbergh)
2014-05-02 14:00:00 (link to chat)What's your take on Matt Cain? SSS blip, or is there something to worry about mechanically?
(ravenight from Boston)
His velo is fine and his baseline mechanics look solid. Like most struggling pitchers, Cain's issues boil down to timing. He has had bouts of alternating over- and under-rotation that has kept him from commanding the strike zone with his usual aplomb, and though he has a very slow delivery that sometimes opens a pitcher up to such timing issues, I expect Cain to get back on track in short order. (Doug Thorburn)
2014-04-24 13:00:00 (link to chat)Did Matt Cain just get "Coorsed" yesterday, or is there a bigger issue we should worry about?
(Shawn from Cubicle)
He's been AWFUL there (Paul Sporer)
2014-04-17 12:00:00 (link to chat)What are your thoughts on Matt Cain right now? Would you start him tonight against the Padres?
(mattstupp from NYC)
I'd start any pitcher in Petco. That said, I'm not hugely big on Cain. He's always out-performed his peripherals and pitchers who do that consistently are probably better than their peripheral numbers, but they also always scare me just the same. I'm always waiting for that second shoe to drop. We're super early into the season (I know I've said that a million times so far but we are!) so I'm not putting much stock in any numbers right now, but Cain was a bit worrisome to me before the season started so he's a bit worrisome to me right now. (Matthew Kory)
2014-03-12 14:00:00 (link to chat)What do you think about Matt Cain as a bounce back pitcher this year?
(Corwin from Atlanta)
Sure, I can climb aboard the Cain Train. His peripherals last season were essentially the same as before. The only difference was that for once, he didn't outperform them. I expect he'll go back to defying FIP to some extent. (Ben Lindbergh)
2014-02-20 13:00:00 (link to chat)How do you feel about Matt Cain's chances to bounce back from an off-year?
(gweedoh565 from Ann Arbor)
I'd bet a a good bit on it. He rebounded in-season. (Paul Sporer)
2014-01-27 13:00:00 (link to chat)What do you see in Lucas Sims that others don't yet see? Do you suppose he's got a mid-2016 ETA?
(DH from Pittsburgh)
Not sure. His profile seems pretty clear to me: easy 91-95 FB with movement; hammer CB; feel for above-average CH; smooth delivery; athletic. Matt Cain isn't a far off comp. I think he has a chance to be very good. (Jason Parks on the Top 101 Prospects)
2014-01-02 13:00:00 (link to chat)20-team dynasty league. Two of the top three teams about to make a trade: Team A is younger, but lacks enough impact pitching to win a title. Team B is creeping up there in age and injury. Assuming both offenses are stacked and the pitching for both is above average or better, Team A sends Giancarlo Stanton, Matt Cain, and 1-1 pick (aka Byron Buxton) for Team B's Hunter Pence, Yu Darvish, 1-3 pick, and Dylan Bundy... fair trade?
(AJ from Phoenix)
Yeah, that's fair. I prefer Team B's side, but it's fair. (Craig Goldstein)
2013-08-14 13:00:00 (link to chat)Thoughts on Kyle Crick? Does he have #2-3 potential? Are the Matt Cain comparisons legit or is it just because they are in same system.
(Shawnykid23 from CT)
Just because they're in the same system. Crick does have that kind of potential, but they're really not all that similar as pitchers. Reminds me of how every Braves LHP prospect was compared to Tom Glavine for awhile. (Jason Cole)
2013-07-29 11:00:00 (link to chat)Among others, Cole Hamels, Justin Verlander, and CC Sabathia are #1's having more mortal 2013 seasons. Fluky seasons, or reasons to be concerned?
(Sara from Tacoma)
Add Matt Cain to this list also, and yes I would be very concerned. The teams made major investments in these pitchers and the lack of performance is always a reason to be concerned. (Zach Mortimer)
2013-08-27 13:00:00 (link to chat)What happened to the Giants pitchers this year? is the just the volatility of pitchers or is Matt Cain really this bad? Also, how does Vogelsong get by with such fringy stuff?
(Daryl from LA)
I'm a little surprised by Cain's drop, but the rest is not too surprising. Vogelsong doesn't get by all that much, does he? Sometimes those guys can have a run, but the margin for error is small. (Harry Pavlidis)
2013-07-08 14:00:00 (link to chat)Is Matt Cain doing anything differently right now? Because he's getting shellacked.
(drmorris from SF)
When Cain has been off it has mostly been due to mistimed pitches that missed their intended locations. As a pitcher who relies on pitching on the edges, he has been getting hammered when he doesn't get the desired action on the slider or change-up.

He was really struggling to harness his slider against the Dodgers, missing low and/or to the arm-side most of the time; but Cain was also elevating his fastball, putting him in vulnerable positions when he got behind in the count. He threw 19 fastballs against LA that were either over the plate or very close to it, and 17 of those pitches ended up in the upper-half of the zone. Of the 15 sliders that he threw, just five finished to the arm-side of the middle of the zone. I think that he will be fine, and just needs to fine tune his timing. I wrote about it here:

On the jukebox: Sublime, "40 oz to Freedom" (Doug Thorburn)
2013-06-11 14:00:00 (link to chat)20-team dynasty. In a vaccuum: Dylan Bundy, Anthony Rendon, and top 3 pick (rd 1) in prospect draft for Matt Cain and bottom 3 pick in prospecf draft (rd 1)?
(Dr. Mike from Milwaukee)
I think Matt Cain will eventually bounce back, but would still prefer the Bundy/Rendon/top 3 side of that deal. (Daniel Rathman)
2013-05-22 18:00:00 (link to chat)What are your favorite "buy-low" NL SP's? My league really only focuses in IP and RA, so things like a good defense behind a pitcher and lots of games in pitchers' parks against bad offenses add value. Thanks!
(DF from Wilmington, NC)
It was McCarthy and Vogelsong but one is now hot and one is now broken. I still like Marco Estrada and I'd test the waters on the guys who own Matt Cain and Ian Kennedy (Jason Collette)
2013-05-10 14:00:00 (link to chat)What happened to Matt Cain?
(Scott Crow from Sacramento, CA)
Cain's K and BB rates are right in line with career marks, but his H rate is up and his HR rate has doubled. He has never given up more than 0.9 HR per 9 innings, but he has a rate of 1.9 this season. Cain has already given up as many homers (9) as he did in ALL of 2011 (221 IP). He is also giving up way more hits than in the past, and from what I have seen it comes down to pitch command (vs control). Cain is just barely missing his targets, but it's enough to allow his pitches to catch too much plate. Cain relies on outstanding command of his four-pitch mix, and though he was off for much of April, based on his last start I would say that Cain is refining his timing patterns and nearing his previous levels of function. (Doug Thorburn)
2013-04-30 12:00:00 (link to chat)Has anyone done a deep dive into Cole Hamels pitch f/x info to see if there is something wrong/different? 6 walks is very not Hamelsey.
(geneclaude from KC)
Not that I've seen.

Barely related plug: Grant Brisbee and Chris Quick, of McCovey Chronicles and Bay City Ball, did nice breakdowns of Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum's command woes last week. (R.J. Anderson)
2013-04-23 13:00:00 (link to chat)What do you make of the early season performances by Matt Cain, Gio Gonzalez, and Dan Haren?
(Garcia from Ft. Worth)
Haren worries me the most of the three because some of it had already been documented heading into the season. Maybe it's just confirmation bias that I didn't expect him to be good and I expected the others to, but even with what seems to be a small return of his velocity, I'm concerned because of recent body of work. (Zachary Levine)
2013-02-08 13:00:00 (link to chat)I'm in a 5x5 12 team keeper league (keep 7). Keepers are Holliday, cliff lee, Chris sale, Aramis Ramirez, Billy Butler, Jose Bautista and Allen Craig. Been offered a trade: Craig for Matt Cain. Should I accept and why?
(Fletch from Tierra Del Fuego)
With the caveat that fantasy is absolutely not my thing, I would do that deal for sure. You should be able to replace Craig's offense at 1B fairly easily, and Cain is an elite starter who will almost certainly give you 220 innings a year for the next couple of seasons. So yeah, pull the trigger! (Ian Miller)
2012-10-04 14:00:00 (link to chat)So this was a pretty serious year for the pitcher, no? What was your favorite dominant pitching performance from the year? And do you think next season will be similar? (not in # of no-hitters, mind you, but in the relative success of defense over offense)
(john from chicago)
We certainly saw a lot of remarkable pitching feats this year. I'm biased, as a Giants fan, but my two favorites were probably Matt Cain's perfect game on June 13 (which, by the way, I didn't see live because I was on a flight to Europe) and the duel between Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw on Aug. 20. Kris Medlen's outing against the Nationals a few weeks ago was also very fun to watch.

I don't think there are any obvious reasons to expect significant changes between 2012 and 2013, so I expect that we'll see a lot of the same things, especially as more and more teams adopt the aggressive defensive shifts pioneered by the Rays and Brewers. (Daniel Rathman)
2012-05-25 14:00:00 (link to chat)There was a Peter Gammons tweet from a year or two ago quoting a scout about how Matt Cain went from having terrible mechanics as a rookie to great mechanics now. Did you seen Cain as a rookie and was that a fair assessment?
(Josh G from Stockton, CA)
I wouldn't call Cain's rookie mechanics "terrible," but he has certainly made improvements during his time in SF. The timing consistency is the biggest change (I smell a theme brewing), but he has also improved his momentum, posture, and pitch selection. He was over-reliant on the fastball when he first came up, but now el cambio is the most feared pitch in his arsenal (Doug Thorburn)
2012-05-09 13:00:00 (link to chat)Johnny Cueto: mirage or turning into an ace? At what point do we have to assume he's just an outlier than can consistently outperform his projections?
(Bubs from Baltimore)
The longer he does it, the more likely it is to be real. (Man, that was an obvious sentence.) He hasn't done it long enough for me to believe. Cueto isn't Matt Cain. For the first three seasons of his career, he was an average-BABIP guy. For the last two seasons (really just one season's worth of innings), he's been a low-BABIP guy. It's possible that he's doing something differently to depress BABIP (I'd have to investigate), but I'd bet on regression. And if/when the regression comes, he won't have the strikeout rate to sustain an elite ERA.

Come to think of it, Bubs, this question might be best answered by one of your own quotes: "Tomorrow, man. What kind of dope fiend be talking about tomorrow? Tomorrow ain't shit. Today, Johnny, today." Season three of The Wire was actually about Johnny Cueto. (Ben Lindbergh)
2012-04-19 14:00:00 (link to chat)Jordan Zimmermann has pitched like an ace the last two seasons, but has a losing record over that time, because the Nationals simply don't hit when he pitches. It seems that some pitchers are doomed to poor run support. Do you know of any cases in which particular pitchers suffered eerily poor run support over significant stretches of their careers? I don't mean pitchers who labored for terrible teams, but ones that got poor support even if their colleagues did not.
(HalfStreet from Fairfax VA)
The first name that comes to mind is Matt Cain, who -- after being denied the win in last night's duel -- remains just 70-73 for his career.

Ted Lilly, in recent years, hasn't had a whole lot of support. He had the fourth-fewest runs scored behind him in 2009 and the third-fewest in 2010.

And, if we're talking about a single season, Ben Sheets in 2004 is in a league of his own. (Daniel Rathman)
2012-03-26 13:00:00 (link to chat)Predictions (in terms of both performance and contract situations) for Matt Cain and Cole Hamels? Feel like either could be their team's best starter.
(Carlo from SF)
Hamels better than Cain this year, neither his team's best starter or second-best starter this year, Hamels hits free agency but re-signs with the Phillies for the same basic deal Halladay has, Cain hits free agency and signs with St. Louis for 5/$85 million. (Sam Miller)
2012-03-08 15:00:00 (link to chat)If you were forced to choose between the two, would you rather have Matt Cain or Tim Lincecum?
(Ed from Foxboro)
I'm assuming you're asking which of the two, if one had to go, I'd want the Giants to sign to a long-term deal. The answer to that is Cain. I have a lot more faith in Cain's ability to provide value commensurate with his salaries over a 5-6 year deal than Lincecum's, and Cain's style is a perfect fit for AT&T. Plus, the country music fan in me would miss Cain's entrance songs, which are annually my favorite on the team. (Daniel Rathman)
2012-03-08 15:00:00 (link to chat)Is this the year that Matt Cain overtakes Tim Lincecum as the Giants ace in the rotation?
(Tim from San Francisco)
This is the year that Madison Bumgarner overtakes both of them. (Daniel Rathman)
2012-02-02 15:00:00 (link to chat)Cory, the list of 12 is up ( for those not in the know... shame on you!)and perennial underperformer Brandon Morrow is up there. What's your opinion on guys that consistently underperform their xFIP? Is Ricky Nolasco an anonomly or is there some skill defecit we're missing?
(mattseward from Cardiff, UK)
This is a good area where "scouting" and observation can complement stats and analytics. My guess is that guys like this struggle with runners on base, so even though they have good pure stuff (as shown in the K/BB rates), they're more susceptible to big innings. This is certainly true of Nolasco... take out his four worst starts last year and he has what, a 3.25 ERA? On the other hand, you have guys like Matt Cain who consistently outperform their xFIP, xERA, whatever... so after 5-6 years of that we must conclude there is some skill at work there that guys like Nolasco and Morrow haven't developed yet. (Cory Schwartz)
2012-01-26 13:00:00 (link to chat)With Texas possibly offering Josh Hamilton an extension, wouldn't they be better off spending that money on Matt Cain, Cole Hamels or Zack Grienke? Assuming Mike Young and Hamilton are out of the 2013 picture, they can still fill an OF spot with Victorino, DYoung, or Melky. Of course, #TheLegend can probably play RF better than anyone on the roster.
(Joe Random from In line at Shake Shack)
I wouldn't offer Hamilton an extension. I would let him walk and use those resources elsewhere. (Jason Parks)
2011-06-14 13:00:00 (link to chat)I have a very strong pitching staff in a long term keeper Strat-O-Matic 16 team league and I only need five starters. Which five of these would you keep? Josh Beckett, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Zack Greinke, CJ Wilson, Jordan Zimmermann, Clayton Kershaw, Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando, and Chris Narveson. Keep in mind I can keep them forever.
(jhardman from Apex, NC)
Lincecum, Kershaw, Greinke, and Cain seem like obvious choices. I'd probably go with Beckett for the last spot, though Wilson might be safer, given Beckett's age and injury history. (Ben Lindbergh)
2011-05-23 13:00:00 (link to chat)Do you have a pet theory on Matt Cain and his consistent BABIP sorcery?
(drmorris from San Fran)
My pet theory on Cain is that it's a lot of things working together, both on the BABIP and HR/FB fronts.

As an aside, and returning to an earlier question, one of the reason I'm not wild about the current BABIP and HR/FB approaches that are in sabermetric vogue is that I like to view HR as part of the spectrum of normal contact. I don't like to separate them out and try to talk about things in two buckets. If batters hit the ball hard and pull it, some of them are going to go out of the yard.

Okay, returning to Cain. Some of it's ballpark. Some of it's that he doesn't allow batters to pull the ball as much as other pitchers do. Some of it's that contact against him is legitimately weaker. Some of it is the defense behind him. Maybe I'm leaving something out. Probably there are things that we don't understand, too, of course. (Mike Fast)
2011-03-08 14:00:00 (link to chat)As the flip to BABIP, Matt Cain always seems to do well with terrible secondary stats. Do you think he will eventually regress to where the stats say he will be or will he keep putting up a statistically-improbably low ERA?
(mef from Brooklyn, NY)
Very true, he's posted an ERA lower than his xERA every year he's been in the rotation, and by quite a bit over the past two seasons, so you have to accept at some point that there is some greater skill in play there. Looking at his rate stats and some of the defenses he's had behind him it's hard to see what that might be, but this is a great area of study for the Pitch-f/x world... between deception, pitch selection and sequencing, location, and perhaps other factors, the answer must be in there somewhere! (Cory Schwartz)
2010-11-09 14:00:00 (link to chat)Shelby Miller ceiling is ___________? In terms of pitching prospects, I would rather have __________ over him?
(Ben254 from St. Louis)
No. 2 starter, kind of a Matt Cain type?; very few. (Kevin Goldstein)
2010-09-13 13:00:00 (link to chat)Please fill in the blank. This is the best NL Rookie Class since ________ (blank). Thanks! Bobby
(Bobby from New York)
Are we going strictly by league? Because the 2007 class had Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, Dustin Pedroia and Josh Hamilton among hitters, Tim Lincecum and Joakim Soria among pitchers. 2006 had Hanley Ramirez, Ryan Zimmerman, Andre Ethier, Prince Fielder, Ian Kinsler, Francisco Liriano, Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver, Josh Johnson, Matt Cain, Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon (who used to not suck), Jonathan Broxton (ditto)...

There's a lot to be excited about with this year's rookie class (Posey, Heyward, Santana, Stanton) but I'm in no rush to appoint them the best class of the past five years until I see much more. (Jay Jaffe)
2010-07-09 13:00:00 (link to chat)Keeper league - would you rather have Josh Johnson & Matt Cain or Strasburg & Latos?
(Stoney18 from Lincoln NE)
Strasburg/Latos. I love Josh Johnson, but that's not even close for me. (Marc Normandin)
2009-10-08 14:00:00 (link to chat)Thoughts on Matt Cain's long-term future?
(chicago from il)
RIght around a #2 starter, very durable, K/9 around 7.0, ERAs in the 3.50-3.85 range. (Joe Sheehan)
2009-07-24 16:30:00 (link to chat)Thanks for the your last unfiltered spot - it really helped clarify some thing for me. My question is in reference to a potential sim league (Diamond Mind) transaction but am curious as to your thoughts for the sake of MLB. Howie Kendrick for Jon Sanchez. Who gets the better end of this deal for the rest of the year? Rest of the player's careers?
(JM from Tucson)
Let me ask you this... if Sanchez didn't throw a no-hitter, would there be this hype? Bud Smith and Anibal Sanchez have also thrown no-hitters. Sanchez has talent but I really do fear his career takes the Oliver Perez route instead of the Matt Cain route. I'd need to know more about the league, like who you have in the infield and your staff but I do want to impart not to overrate Sanchez because he threw a no-hitter. (Eric Seidman)
2009-06-05 15:30:00 (link to chat)Eric, on your IMDB page it says you haven't missed a 76ers game in years. Might we see you write for Basketball Prospectus?
(Jay from SD)
One of my goals for 2009 was to get more in tune with advanced basketball analysis. It hasn't happened yet for lack of time but I think it would be fun to compare my scouting eyes from watching so much over the years to what the numbers say. With baseball, I tend to only watch the Phillies, Greg Maddux, Matt Cain, and the 5 innings of Javier Vazquez before he implodes. With the NBA, I could watch a Grizzlies-Wizards game and be entertained. (Eric Seidman)
2009-02-19 13:00:00 (link to chat)Will, I look at Matt Cain and say "he's pitched 200+ innings 3 years in a row. This trend shows that he'll likely do the same this year." You look at him and say "his heavy workload on a young arm is more likely breaking it down, rather than proving he's capable." You're clearly right, but I have a hard time thinking I'm completely off base.
(ericmilburn from San Francisco)
I understand why you think that, but over and over we see that the mileage put on an arm before age 24-25 is, no matter how "babied", damaging in the long and short term. Maybe he's the freak that can handle it, but I'm talking about probabilities not certainties. Carlos Zambrano is the comp that comes to mind here, or Jeremy Bonderman. With him and every good young pitcher, I hope I'm wrong. (Will Carroll)
2009-02-19 13:00:00 (link to chat)I can pretty much take what you just said about Matt Cain, apply that to Felix Hernandez and feel bad about my team's future, huh? Anything special about the fact that Felix averages just under 100 pitches per start to brighten my day?
(philosofool from Athens)
Or any young pitcher, so don't feel like I'm singling you out. In fact, Mr. Fool, you had a great comment about regression vs Verducci that has me working on a study, so please email me. (Will Carroll)
2009-01-29 13:00:00 (link to chat)I can't decide if Matt Cain is going to end up a #1, 2 or 3. What do you see for him in '09 and beyond?
(ericmilburn from San Francisco)
I think Cain is a great #2 capable of putting up occasional #1 performances. The walk rate, even when you take out the IBB, is a little high for my liking if we're ranking him like this. For 2009 and beyond, a lot more of 2007-2008, which is nothing to complain about. He tends to be one of those people that someone in your league inevitably grabs way too soon though, thinking this is the year he whiffs 10 guys per nine all of a sudden. (Marc Normandin)
2008-12-15 13:00:00 (link to chat)My initial reaction to giving a player an opt-out clause (like Burnett, A-Rod, and CC) is that they were horrible decisions by the club. But upon further consideration, I actually like them in many cases. I think the most likely scenario is that CC stays relatively healthy and productive for the first 3 years of his deal. This probably leads him to opting out, which allows the Yankees to avoid the risker portion of the contract. Really, the only scenarios I can think of where it is less desireable than the straight 7-year contract is (1) the Burnett Scenario where he is not really healthy the first couple years, but opts out after a dominant 3rd year OR (2) he stays productive all 7 years, but opts out after 3 years and the Yankees miss 4 years of below-market production from an elite pitcher. But really, scenario #1 isn't that bad, particularly if the guy keeps getting injured (Toronto will probably be thrilled he opted out in a year). And to me, scenario #2 is pretty unlikely. If I'm the Yankees, I'm praying he opts out so I can go after Matt Cain, Felix Hernandez, or Ervin Santana in 3 years for a similar deal. Am I crazy or missing something here?
(mymrbig from New Orleans)
Joe Sheehan made largely this argument in Vegas. Not sure if he's written it, though I think he has. I'm looking at it as a 3 year contract with a 90 million buck insurance policy on it for Sabathia, because he only stays if things have gone wrong. So yes, I agree with you, Big. (Will Carroll)
2008-12-04 13:30:00 (link to chat)Why are the Twins so willing to unload Delmon Young after only one season? Follow-up: what's the trade value for him--someone like Homer Bailey, or more like Matt Cain (or Matt Garza)?
(Scott from Detroit)
Argh. Got a call and lost my answer to this...his value is between them, but if the Twins trade for a pitcher, Smith should be fired. Sand to the beach, and all that. (Joe Sheehan)
2008-10-09 14:00:00 (link to chat)So, if your Doug Melvin, are you trading JJ? Moving him to 2B and Weeks to Center? Essentially, the question is this: If you're Dough Melvin, what trades and positional moves are you making for the Brewers this winter?
(HRFastness from MKE)
I'd think about moving Hardy to 2B or 3B to accommodate Escobar (or maybe he moves, I don't know without talking to somebody more knowledgeable about his defense), I'd think about moving Weeks to CF or another team.

I think Prince Fielder may be a more tradable/replaceable commodity than Hardy. I know one of the big media wags proposed a Fielder/Matt Cain swap, which makes sense given the Brewers' need for pitching in a post-Sheets, post-Sabathia world. The Brewers would hear about it from their fans, though. (Jay Jaffe)
2008-10-06 14:00:00 (link to chat)seems like a lot of analysts have come around on the Giants longterm outlook after this season... not following them closely what are the reasons this doomed franchise now seems to have some legit upside?
(Jordan from LA)
The potential for a ridiculous homegrown rotation of Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, Alderson, Sanchez and Sosa in about 18 months. The franchise isn't much, but it has shown the ability to draft, and even develop, pitchers. That group is why you hear a lot of Matt Cain trade rumors. (Joe Sheehan)
2008-05-09 14:00:00 (link to chat)Does Steve Philips make you chuckle? He recently suggested in an ESPN article that the Reds should trade Dunn for Matt Cain and Jared Burton and Affeldt for Phil Hughes.
(jdtk99 from Iowa)
I'd get a heartier laugh out of the man if he was in a front office instead of a studio; I suspect "Studio Transaction Analysis" would make for a really pointless exercise. (Christina Kahrl)
2008-03-25 14:00:00 (link to chat)Christina, here's a chance to say something snarky about the Giants: go.
(Chomsky from Brooklyn)
This morning, I noted in conversation that they'll suck with aplomb, but to be fair, they won't be entirely dull. I don't know where their season ticket sales are, but I'd want to see what Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, and Jonathan Sanchez can do. The pity is that lineup, which will be bad enough to get people jonesing for Bob Brenly comeback. (Christina Kahrl)

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