The San Francisco Giants are in the middle of Spring Training and so far Matt Cain has not proved he can be relied upon. Based upon the last four seasons this was expected. So if Cain doesn’t prove deserving of the fifth starter spot what should the team do with him?
The answer is simple, make Cain a reliever. Cain should follow what Joe Blanton did last season and make himself a middle reliever. Cain is fine the first time through, but once he gets 40-50 pitches under his belt he starts losing velocity which is a sign of a middle reliever.
If Cain can reinvent himself as a middle reliever he will be effective for the Giants and he will prolong his career.
The first sign of someone who isn’t a starter anymore is losing velocity and not being able to maintain velocity deep into starts.
Cain losing velocity was on display in his last start.
According to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News Cain was hitting 91 miles per hour in the first inning, but by the second inning he was throwing 86-88. Not only is Cain’s fastball below average, but his inability to get hitters out with high fastball’s is a huge problem.
When Cain came into the league he was able to get hitters out consistently with his high fastball. Now with a below average fastball, his high pitch is batting practice. This was on display as Cain gave up 9 hits in 4 and 2/3 innings. To his credit, Cain did have 5 strikeouts and his off-speed pitches looked better.
However, this doesn’t mean Cain should be the starter. Cain is going through the same thing Tim Lincecum did, slowly deteriorating before our eyes and most people are blind to it.
It’s time for the Giants brass to make Ty Blach the fifth starter and make Cain reinvent himself as a long reliever or swingman. Blach is the future, Cain is the past. Blach proved to be a better pitcher than Cain when he came up in September last season. Blach has been better than Cain this spring, though he hasn’t had the opportunity to start yet.
The fact Cain continues to start means the Giants want Cain to be the fifth starter and will make excuses for him even though he’s not a starter anymore. Bruce Bochy will favor Cain over Blach any day of the week. This is why it’s imperative Bobby Evans and Brian Sabean step up and tell Bochy that Blach is better and should be the starter.
Cain is owed 20 million this season so it will be difficult for the Giants to flat out cut him. This is why it’s important to find some sort of role for him. If not the Giants waste 20 million dollars on someone who can’t help them this season.