While the San Francisco Giants got underwhelming results from several star players including Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval in 2013, the team’s biggest disappointment may have been starter Matt Cain, seeing as he registered his highest ERA since 2006 with a 4.00 mark. However, the 29-year-old finished the season strong, so there likely won’t be that much to be concerned about going forward.
Cain appeared to fall victim to the wear and tear that came from throwing in the 2012 postseason, especially in the early part of the year. He struggled during spring training. After showing signs of promise with six shutout innings to open the season, he had one of the worst starts of his career on April 7 against the St. Louis Cardinals, giving up nine earned runs in just 3.2 innings.
Cain continued to be inconsistent for the next few weeks, as he gave up at least four earned runs in three of his next nine starts leading up to another disaster start in St. Louis on June 1, in which he gave up seven earned runs over six innings. After that start, though, he was very consistent, giving up three earned runs or less in every start for the rest of the season, save a July 5 appearance against the Los Angeles Dodgers in which he allowed eight earned runs in 2.1 innings.
If Cain’s numbers are looked at solely in terms of what he did in the second half, they look much better. After the All-Star break, he had a 2.36 ERA over 72.1 innings, giving up just 63 hits, and 18 hits while holding batters to a .232 average. He’s always been able to succeed without striking hitters out, so there’s no need to worry about his low strikeout totals. As dominant as Cain has been for the large part of his career, there shouldn’t be much worry about Cain’s ability to be effective overall in 2014.
Cain gets a “B-” grade for his 2013 efforts. While the first half of his season was certainly one to forget, he finished off strong, which sets him off on the right foot for next year.