Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Sometimes for a player, the light simply "turns on" and the game becomes so much easier. All the hard times as a young struggling pitcher or hitter melt away and the game becomes fun again. That's what has apparently happened to San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain.
Cain arrived in San Francisco in late 2005 with a lot of talent, but at 20-years-old, had not learned how to harness his "power." In his first full season as a starter, Cain was a respectable 13-12, but his ERA was a high 4.15 and his walks-per-nine-innings was a much too high 4.11.
Despite improving on his ERA and walks over the next two seasons, Cain still struggled to win games, in part because his team just didn't score many runs behind him. He went 7-16 in 2007 and was 8-14 last season as his team averaged just 3.1 runs-per-game in his starts. His ERA was a respectable 3.76, but his WHIP was 1.36, so his fantasy value was negligible.
Still, he had too much talent to ignore and people continued to put him on their fantasy rosters. As befitting his performance over the previous two years, Cain's Average Draft Position (ADP) was just 136, but at least he was being drafted.
Those who took the chance have been rewarded in almost every category in spring. The obvious category is wins, where Cain is now 9-1 and has won his last six consecutive starts. He has also lowered his ERA to a stunning 2.39, almost a point-and-a-half lower than last year, and he's walking less batters (3.53-per-nine innings) although it's still too high.
Unlike in previous seasons, the Giants bats have come alive when he is on the mound, they're averaging 5.8 runs-per-game in his starts. The hitting behind your pitcher is mostly luck, but sometimes when a pitcher begins to pitch well, his batters feel less pressure to produce, knowing he will keep the opposition scoring to a minimum. maybe that's the case here.
So now the question for all the Cain owners out there is "Will this streak of great pitching continue, or should I try and 'sell' Cain while his value is at a career high?"
I'm still concerned about his walks, he's had six starts of four walks-or-more, but I think Cain has turned the proverbial corner. He may not continue to win nine out of every 10 decisions, but he's for real and I don't think you should move him unless you are bowled over by an overwhelming offer.
Matt Cain Career Statistics