World Series: Why Matt Cain Should Start Game 3 for the Giants


Oct 17, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain (18) walks off the mound after the St. Louis Cardinals bat in the third inning of game three of the 2012 NLCS at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

After announcing that Barry Zito would start game 1 against Justin Verlander, and Madison Bumgarner will get the call in game 2, Bruce Bochy later announced that it would be Vogelsong then Cain to follow. I don’t believe that this is the best game plan for Bochy against a team like the Tigers. The Detroit Tigers are a dangerous team with excellent offense and lights out pitching. There are a myriad of reasons Cain should throw game 3 instead of game 4.

If the Giants come out firing against the Tigers and manage to take a 2-0 lead heading to Detroit, then the third game is not a must win situation. Matt Cain could pitch that game on four full days’ rest and if he wins, the Giants take a commanding 3-0 lead in this series. If the Giants lose, Cain is set up to take the mound in the probable game 7. I know it sounds crazy to think that, if the Giants go up 2-0, there will be a game 7, but we are talking about a team that just swept the New York Yankees.

If The Giants and Tigers split games 1 and 2, then game 3 becomes the must win game of the series. As difficult as the Giants have been to put down in this post-season, it is impossible to expect them to come back a third time. In that case, Cain needs the ball in game 3 because he gives the Giants the best chance to win. Don’t forget that the Giants have an extremely strong bullpen, including Tim Lincecum who has been fantastic in relief this post-season. Matt Cain is an extremely strong willed and tough pitcher; he would want the ball in that situation.

If the unthinkable happens and the Giants go down 0-2, the Giants can’t afford not to start Cain in game 3. No team has ever come back from a 0-3 deficit in a World Series. In fact, only the 2004 Red Sox have done it in a seven game series in all of Major League Baseball history. Again, Cain represents the Giants best opportunity at pulling up out of a tailspin. I believe the Yankees made that mistake with the Tigers by not starting Sabathia in game 3 of that series. By the time C.C. got to the mound in game 4, down 0-3, the best he could hope for was to slow the arterial bleeding of the Yankees.

My good friend, trusted resource, and Orlando area baseball umpire Graham McGowan is quoted as saying, “Matt Cain is the ace, and as the ace he wants the ball. Vogelsong is good, but do you want that much pressure on him in game 7? Cain is tried and true. Nerves of steel as made obvious after the perfect game.”

I can’t think of a better way to sum it up than that, the Giants need to set themselves up to have their ace on the mound twice against the tremendous offense of the Detroit Tigers. In 2010 it would have had to be Tim Lincecum, and in 2012 it has to be Matt Cain.