What Matt Cain’s Injury Means For The SF Giants
The San Francisco Giants‘ pitching staff hasn’t be tremendous this season, and with the loss of Matt Cain, it doesn’t look like it will get better. On Monday, Cain discovered he needs season-ending elbow surgery, which he will undergo on the 11th. In 15 starts, Cain was 2-7 with 4.18 ERA and 70 Ks.
There are several factors that could have played in the injury. According to SFGate, Cain has had bone chips in his arm since high school. In fact, he hasn’t been able to fully extend his right arm since then. Another possible reason could be an increase in sliders thrown last season. In 2012, Cain threw his slider 19.9% of the time. In 2013, it jumped to 28.2%. The rise in slider usage could have caused enough stress on his elbow to where it finally gave way. Whatever the reason, Cain is going to be gone for an extended period of time.
Now what does Cain’s absence mean for San Fran? Cain is a three-time all star with two rings, so it should be devastating right? Wrong. When you look at how he has performed this season, not in years past, you will see a massive drop in production. A -0.3 WAR and a 4.14 SIERA rating (4.20 would be considered below average) shows that Matt Cain hasn’t been a valuable pitcher in 2014. The depth of the rotation gets shaken up, but not necessarily the production.
The rotation will look something like this down the stretch:
Madison Bumgarner– 13-9/3.22 ERA/158 Ks
Tim Hudson– 8-8/2.74 ERA/91 Ks
Ryan Vogelsong– 7-8/3.64 ERA/109 Ks
Tim Lincecum– 9-7/4.24 ERA/124 Ks
Jake Peavy– 0-3/4.82 ERA/12 Ks (1-9/4.72 ERA/100 Ks for Boston Red Sox)
Bumgarner has been the glue to the Giants’ starting 5. Without Bumgarner, the Giants wouldn’t even be in the playoff chase. Hudson and Vogelsong, age 39 and 37 respectively, have put together good seasons, even in what could be their final years. We know what we are getting out of Lincecum these days, so his many strikeouts and earned runs come as no surprise. To round it out, Peavy hasn’t been successful in Boston or SF, though he only has two starts out west.
Injuries are what have plagued some of San Fran’s success this season. Brandon Belt had hit seven HRs in the first three weeks of the season, but because of a concussion and broken thumb, he has only hit four since. Angel Pagan has been bugged by a bulging disc since mid-June. Marco Scutaro has a total of 13 ABs this year, suffering from both neck and back problems.
Somehow, the Giants have maintained wildcard contention, despite having these three players hurt. If Pagan and Belt return to form, the pitching rotation stands their ground, and the bullpen plays above average, The Matt Cain injury could mean nothing come playoff time.