Cain Faces Miller In Game 1 Of Doubleheader: Game Preview


Tornado warnings prevented the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals from playing on Friday night, which means a doubleheader will take place on Saturday. That is, if the weather enables roughly eight hours of baseball to be played without any interruptions. Bad weather is reportedly going to be a theme this weekend.

The originally scheduled Friday night pitchers–Matt Cain and Shelby Miller–will kick off the daytime half of the doubleheader.

May 21, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain (18) pitches against the Washington Nationals during the fourth inning at AT&T Park.

The general gist of Cain’s last start wouldn’t appear to be too bad. He pitched five innings, allowed two runs and struck out six. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll quickly find that he walked five and needed 107 pitches to get 15 outs. Yeah, the word “efficient” doesn’t come to mind, but nonetheless, escaped with his fourth win of the year and his ERA went from 5.12 to 5.00.

Cain’s still looking for consistency, however. He mustered two solid outings to open May, but he followed them up by surrendering six runs to the Colorado Rockies. Sure, it’s an improvement of his 6.49 April ERA, but he’s still searching for his 2012 form.

Miller, meanwhile, arguably had his worst start this year against the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 26–his last start. He allowed three runs on seven hits over 5.1 innings. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, but Miller’s overall ERA climbed from 1.74 to 2.02. And yes, he’s a rookie.

May 20, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Shelby Miller (40) is taken out of the game during the sixth inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Scouting Shelby Miller

Shelby Miller in one word: fastballs. According to FanGraphs, Miller throws his fastball 74.3 percent of the time. Only Juan Nicasio and Lance Lynn throw more fastballs than he does. Pundits will continue to question the long-term prowess of the pitch given how frequently he throws it, but when opposing hitters have hit only .207 off the pitch this year, there’s no reason to change anything.

Miller’s fastball does have some pop. He throws it at an average speed of 93.3 MPH, but he can hit 97 MPH on occasion. So yes, he’s qualified as a hard-thrower, but his fastball isn’t an Aroldis Chapman fastball. He still needs to locate it, but he can, of course, get away with a few more mistakes. With a 0.58 HR/9 ratio, though, he seems to understand that concept.

Miller’s repertoire is rounded out with a curveball that opponents are hitting .175 off of this year. As frequently as he throws his fastball, he also throws his curveball 23 percent of the time, which is also a high usage rate. The outlier here is his changeup, which he throws only 2.4 percent of the the time.