Matt Cain Impressive in Spring Training Debut


July 9th, 2014 was the last time Matt Cain took the mound for the San Francisco Giants before he returned to the hill on Monday, as the Giants squared off with their archrival, the Los Angeles Dodgers in the eighth game of the Cactus League schedule.

Facing basically the Dodgers’ opening day starters, Cain was very impressive, as he threw two perfect innings on just 20 pitches, 13 of which were strikes. In the first inning, he retired Jimmy Rollins on a flyball, Carl Crawford on a grounder, and Yasiel Puig (who was booed pretty heavily) on another routine flyout, all on 12 pitches.

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The second inning started with an Adrian Gonzalez groundout, followed by a Howie Kendrick groundball out, and a Yasmani Grandal flyout.

Cain’s fastball sat around 90 to 92 miles per hour, and he didn’t throw 100 percent, which is the status quo for a Spring Training debut. He also threw all of his secondary pitches, a slider, curveball, and changeup. His delivery looked much more effortless, and he didn’t need to completely exert himself like he did when battling through the discomfort in his elbow.

After he was pulled to allow Ryan Vogelsong to get some work in, Cain talked with CSN Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic, and told him “That went really good. It was definitely good to get out there and get that extra competitive adrenaline going.”

After struggling the last two seasons, Cain’s excellent debut, and optimistic post-game interview, is a welcome sign. In 45 starts since the calender turned to 2013, Cain is 10-17 with a 4.06 ERA and 1.187 WHIP. After his start on July 9th last year, Cain underwent elbow surgery, removing bone chips that had been bothering him for years. Later in the offseason, he also went through ankle surgery, also to take bone chips out.

“That went really good. It was definitely good to get out there and get that extra competitive adrenaline going.”


Cain is looking to return to the form he showed over his first eight seasons, which made him one of the most dependable, and underrated, pitchers in the game. He totaled an 85-78 record to match his 3.27 ERA and 1.173 WHIP in 234 starts, and a single relief appearance over eight years.

Pitching depth for San Francisco has come into question more than once this offseason, especially after the team struck out on Jon Lester, and pulled their offer on James Shields in free agency. Getting Cain back to his old form, and becoming the “Horse” again, will make some of those questions go away.

There has also been optimism regarding another former ace, Tim Lincecum, in the early goings of the Spring. If Lincecum and Cain can become great pitchers again, and Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson are able to duplicate what made them successful in San Francisco last year, that will ease some of the load on the ace, Madison Bumgarner, who is widely seen as the only stable starter in the Giants’ rotation.

The Giants are working diligently to defend their World Series title and break the “odd year curse,” and getting Cain back is a great first step.

Next: Giants Spring Training Battles Update