Out of Houston High School in Germantown, TN, pitcher Matt Cain was chosen by Giants in the first round (25th overall pick) of the June 2002 amateur draft. Once the No. 2 pitcher on his high school staff, Cain is now the No. 2 Giants prospect. A stress fracture in his elbow that sidelined him in the middle of the 2003 season kept him from being the No. 1 Giants prospect. He is currently 19 years old and turns 20 on October 1.
BB/IP = Walks per inning
BB9/IP Walks per 9 innings
K/IP = Strikeouts per inning
K9/IP = Strikeouts per nine innings
K/BB = Strikeouts per walk
Cain had improved from 2003 compared to his showing in 2002. In 2002, control was a definite concern for him. He had just 1.81 strikeouts per walk despite striking out more than one batter per inning, giving him 0.576 walks per inning, or 5.183 walks per nine innings of pitching. He also had three wild pitches, which was definitely reason for concern.
In 2003, he improved on all of these numbers. He went from 1.047 strikeouts per inning to 1.216. Walks per inning declined from 0.58 to 0.32, which is a very nice drop. His most dramatic improvement came in the form of strikeouts per walk. He more than doubled this number, leaping from 1.818 to 3.75. However, the K/BB ratio is not the best definition of a pitcher's control.
In 1998, then-Diamondback pitcher Brian Anderson struck out 95 batters and walked 24, very similar numbers to Cain. However, Anderson pitched 208 innings that year compared to Cain's 74 in 2003, making his BB/IP ratio an incredibly low 0.115.
That being said, a rise in the K/BB ratio can either be caused by an increase in the number of strikeouts per inning or a decrease in the number of walks per inning. In Cain's case, this leap in the ratio was influenced by both possible factors. Conversely, if a pitcher's K/BB ratio becomes lower, that either means they are striking out fewer batters per inning, or walking more.
However, control is really only one part of the package of a pitcher. A better number to look at would be the WHIP, which combines the number of walks and hits in an inning pitched.
H/IP = Hits per inning
WHIP = Walks + Hits per inning
This shows that the percentage increase in how many hits he gives up per inning is greater than the decrease in his WHIP. However, that means nothing, because the WHIP already includes his number of hits given up per inning. All that really shows is that even with the increase in hits per inning, his improvement with his control keeps his total WHIP down from where it was.
He looks to be quite impressive, and I would expect to see similar numbers in San Jose.
He rushes his delivery, putting stress on his elbow, which was injured in the middle of last year. This is worrisome because a serious elbow injury could ruin his career or at least set him back several years. However, the Giants are sure he will grow out of this habit. He is only 19 this year, and has plenty of time to mature.
His Strong Pitches:
At nineteen, he was one of the younger players in his league, but he was not overpowered by the older pitchers. If he stays healthy, expect to see him reach the Norwich Navigators by the end of this season. If he has an injury again, he will likely be brought along much more slowly than he would have otherwise with concern to his injuries. Hopefully, he is able to stay healthy.
Jesse Radin writes for SFDugout.com and has been a Giants follower since 1996. The Blind Observer is Jesse's column covering all things baseball, though mainly about the Giants. Questions or comments can be sent to email@example.com
The views expressed in the columns do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the site's publisher, writers, or other staff members. The content on this site may not be redistributed without the expressed consent of SFDugout.com.