Tag Archives: Matt Cain

Phillies visit San Francisco for a season-defining long weekend

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The Philadelphia Phillies (59-55) will continue their roller-coaster ride of a 2019 regular season out west with a long weekend visit to face the host San Francisco Giants (56-59) at Oracle Park.

The Giants, who stormed back into the National League Wildcard playoff picture with a scorching hot July, have stumbled backwards in August. Since flipping the page over on the calendar, San Francisco has gone just 1-6.
Wins in just four of their last 13 contests, including dropped two of three to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, have dropped the Giants 3.5 out in that Wildcard race with four teams now standing between them and a spot in the postseason.
For the Phillies, losses in three of their last four games leave them tied for one of the two NL Wildcard berths. However, there are now five teams within 1.5 games of one another in what looks like it is shaping up to be a wild sprint (stumble?) down the stretch.
The biggest problem for both of these teams of late has been an inability to score runs. The Giants enter the series having put just 17 runs up on the scoreboard across their seven August games. That is an average of just 2.43 runs per game. Meanwhile, the Phillies have crossed the plate just 23 times over their own last half-dozen, or an average of 3.83 runs per contest.
The Giants have averaged just 4.24 runs per game over the entire 2019 season, the second-lowest per-game output in the National League. They also have registered the league’s second-lowest OPS, and have the second-lowest home run total in the NL, ahead of only the rebuilding Miami Marlins in each of those categories.
Things aren’t much better statistically on the mound for San Francisco. The pitching staff ranks just 10th of the 15 NL ball clubs in batting average against (.254) and OPS against (.754) as well as strikeouts. The Giants came in at 18th of the 30 teams in Major League Baseball in our latest MLB Power Rankings released one week ago, with the Phillies ranking in the No. 14 position.
With so many teams between them and a postseason berth, this is now a pivotal series for the host Giants. If the Phillies manage to somehow take three of four here, that would probably sound the death knell for the 2019 season by the bay.
For their part, the Phillies need to come out of this with at least a split. That would allow the club to return home next week having gone no worse than 3-4 in a two-city western swing.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

TOP LINEUP THREATS

Kevin Pillar (30/CF): .252/.281/.420, 13 HR, 42 XBH, 56 RBIs, 55 runs, 9 steals
Brandon Belt (31/1B): .233/.347/.390, 12 HR, 33 XBH, 39 RBIx, 57 runs
Evan Longoria (33/3B): .239/.314/.439, 13 HR, 30 XBH, 39 RBIx, 38 runs
Pablo Sandoval (32/3B): .267/.312/.507, 14 HR, 37 XBH, 41 RBIs, 42 runs
Mike Yastrzemski (28/LF): .264/.316/.477, 10 HR, 24 XBH, 34 RBIs, 37 runs
Scooter Gennett (29/2B): .218/.233/.310, 1 HR, 6 XBH, 7 RBIs, 5 runs (90 plate appearances with CIN/SFG)
Gennett arrived in a trade deadline deal from the Cincinnati Reds, leading to the release of longtime Giants second baseman Joe Panik.

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

Buster Posey: A Georgia native now in his 11th big-league season, Posey was the first round pick of the Giants at 5th overall in the 2008 MLB Draft out of Florida State University.
After receiving a cup of coffee in September 2009, Posey became the Giants starting catcher in the 2010 season. He won the NL Rookie of the Year Award and finished 11th in NL MVP voting, then led the Giants past the Phillies in five games in the NLCS enroute to the first World Series championship for the franchise in 56 years.
Two years later, Posey made his first of six NL All-Star teams, won his first of four NL Silver Sluggers, and won that NL MVP Award. He also once again helped the Giants to a World Series crown.
Posey and the Giants would add a third World Series championship to their franchise trophy case in the 2014 season. In 2016, Posey won his long career NL Gold Glove Award at catcher.
The wear and tear of catching more than 900 games at the big-league level have taken their toll on Posey, who is now 32-year-old. Still, he has been behind the plate in 74 of the team’s 115 games this season.
He received a nine-year contract at $167+ million which runs through the 2021 season with a 2022 team option. It will be interesting to see whether the Giants can remain a playoff contender over the next year or two, and if not, whether he could end up moving on to another team. For all the world, Posey feels like a one-team player to me, and he will make an interesting Hall of Fame case one day late in the 2020’s.

GIANTS SHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

Thursday – Madison Bumgarner (29/LH): 6-7, 3.92 ERA, 3.82 FIP, 1.175 WHIP, 140 hits over 144.2 IP across 24 starts with a 142/30 K:BB
Friday – Tyler Beede (26/RH): 3-6, 5.38 ERA, 5.50 FIP, 1.602 WHIP, 84 hits over 73.2 IP across 15 games (13 starts) with a 69/34 K:BB
Saturday – Jeff Samardzija (34/RH): 8-9, 3.70 ERA, 4.43 FIP, 1.164 WHIP, 111 hits over 126.1 IP across 23 starts with a 110/36 K:BB
Sunday – Conner Menez (24/LH): 0-1, 5.73 ERA, 7.49 FIP, 1.273 WHIP, 9 hits over 11 IP across 2 starts with a 10/5 K:BB

THE SKIPPER

Bruce Bochy – (reprinted from CBP series 7.30.19)
Now 64 years of age, Bochy was actually born in Landes de Bussac, France while his father was serving in the U.S. Army. His family ultimately moved to Florida, and he became the first round draft choice at 23rd overall in the 1975 MLB Draft by the Houston Astros.
Bochy reached the big-leagues with Houston in 1978, beginning what would become a nine-season career as a player in Major League Baseball. A catcher, he was famously plowed into by Pete Rose, who was scoring what would prove to be the winning run in the top of the 10th inning as the Phillies rallied to tie up the 1980 NLCS at two games apiece. He was the backup catcher with the San Diego Padres team that won a National League pennant in 1984.
After his retirements as a player, Bochy was hired to manage in the San Diego minor league system. In 1993 he was moved up to the big club, taking over as the third base coach. Then for the 1995 season, Bochy was finally hired as manager of the Padres. Over 12 years as skipper in southern California, Bochy amassed a 951-975 record, guiding the Friars to four division crowns and a 1998 NL pennant.
Let go following the 2006 season, Bochy immediately caught on as manager with the division-rival Giants, and has been the skipper in San Francisco ever since. Over 13 years by the bay, Bochy has a 1,029-1,021 record and has led the Giants to three World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014. His 2016 team went to the postseason as a Wildcard team.
Overall, Bochy is now in his 25th consecutive season as a manager in Major League Baseball. He has a combined record of 1,980-1,996 between his work with the Padres and Giants organizations. He is just 28 wins behind Leo Durocher for 10th place on the all-time MLB managerial wins list, 60 behind Walter Alston for 9th place on that list. That top ten spot is his goal, as Bochy has battled health issues and has already announced that this will be his final season as manager.

THE BALLPARK

Oracle Park: Originally opened for the 2000 season as “Pac Bell Park” and having undergone two prior name changes, most recently to “AT&T Park”, this gorgeous facility took on the “Oracle Park” name this season.
Lying off the San Francisco Bay, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is visible from the right field bleachers, beyond which lies China Basin, now nicknamed “McCovey Cove” after Hall of Famer Willie McCovey. The Cove is a hangout via kayack and small water craft for souvenir hunters hoping to snare a home run ball flying entirely out of the yard.
To hit a ball into that cove, batters have to lift one over the 24-foot high right field wall, that number in feet chosen to honor Willie Mays, the Hall of Famer who wore that number with the Giants.
Behind the left field bleachers is a giant Coca-Cola bottle, which lights up after any Giants home run. Playground slides can be found inside the bottle, which is located in a park-like area. Next to the bottle is the “Giant 1927 Old-Time Four-Fingered Baseball Glove” art work.
It is 309 feet down the right field line to that wall, out to 365 feet in right field and 421 to right-center, the deepest part of the ballpark. Around to dead center field it is 399 feet, then 404 in left-center, 364 in left field, and finally 339 feet down the left field line.
Though the Giants have won three World Series titles earlier in this decade – 2010, 2012 and 2014 – all of those championships were clinched on the road. The ballpark has been the site of three no-hitters, including a 2012 ‘Perfect Game’ thrown by Matt Cain.
The semi-finals and championship round of the 2013 World Baseball Classic were held here, and the park was an official sellout for Giants games over 794 consecutive games between October 2010 and July 2017.

SERIES WEATHER REPORT

Thursday: Partly cloudy with temps dropping from the lower-60’s at the 9:45 pm EDT first pitch into the upper-50’s during the series opener with winds moderate off the bay and just the slightest chance of precipitation.
Friday: Partly cloudy with temps in the lower-60’s at the 10:15 pm EDT first pitch and remaining consistent all evening with winds moderate off the bay and a 20% chance of precipitation during the game.
Saturday: Sun breaking out for the 4:05 pm EDT first pitch with winds moderate off the bay and a 20% chance of precipitation during the game.
Sunday: Mostly sunny, gorgeous afternoon for what will be a 7:05 pm EDT first pitch. Winds moderate off the bay and a 20% chance of precipitation during this ESPN Game of the Week.
San Francisco area forecast from The Weather Channel
Originally published at Phillies Nation as “Phillies opposition preview: San Francisco Giants

Matt Cain Approaching Final Season With Giants

From losing campaigns to multiple World Series championships glory, Matt Cain has been a part of it all with the San Francisco Giants over the last dozen seasons.
The Giants first round pick back in the 2002 MLB Amateur Draft at 25th overall out of a Tennessee high school, Cain worked his way incrementally through the San Francisco minor league system during the first half of the last decade.
After winning 23 games combined in the 2004-05 seasons while rising from High A to the AAA level, Cain was given his first taste of the big leagues at the end of August 2005.

Cain Begins His Big League Career

Inserted into the rotation immediately upon his August 29 debut, Cain would produce six consecutive Quality Starts in September to end that 2005 season.
He would remain in that rotation for the better part of the next decade, helping the Giants go from also-ran to perennial contenders.
For more than seven years, from that late ’05 debut through the 2012 season, Cain made every one of his starting assignments. He went 85-78 over that time with a 3.27 ERA and 1.173 WHIP, allowing just 1,279 hits in 1,536.2 innings over 236 appearances (235 starts) with 1,278 strikeouts.
Cain finished fifth in the 2006 NL Rookie of the Year Award vote. He became an NL All-Star in three of the four seasons between 2009-12, receiving Cy Young Award consideration in each of the final three years of that stretch.

Cain and the Giants Become Champions

In 2009, Cain helped lead the Giants to their first winning season in five years. Then in 2010, Cain and the Giants won the World Series.
It was the first world championship for the franchise since 1954, and the first at all since they had moved from New York to San Francisco following the 1957 season.
In 2012, the Giants would do it again, taking the Fall Classic for a second time in three years. Cain had the best season of his career that year, going 16-5 with a 2.79 ERA and a career high 193 strikeouts.
On June 13 of that 2012 season, Cain tossed the 22nd Perfect Game in Major League Baseball history. On that day he defeated the Houston Astros by a 10-0 score in front of the home fans at AT&T Park, striking out 14 batters in what was the first Perfect Game in club history.

Problems Begin to Arise

A two-time champion and one of the game’s best young starting pitchers at just age 28, Cain was entering what promised to be his prime years. And then it all suddenly changed for the worse.
In the 2013 season, Cain went just 8-10 as his ERA rose to the 4.00 mark. His peripheral numbers were not far off his career norms, so the season could be written off to a World Series hangover. After all, the entire team had slipped from that championship perch to a 76-86 losing campaign.
Injuries struck in 2014. He struggled in April and had to be placed on the 15-day DL for the first time in his career with a strained hamstring. Returning in mid-May, Cain remained largely ineffective and began to experience elbow discomfort.

Personal Struggles, Team Glory

Despite his final three starts all being Quality Starts, he was shut down after beating the neighboring Oakland A’s on July 9th. Two days later, Cain underwent surgery to remove bone chips on his right elbow and was done for the season.
The 2014 Giants rotation overcame his loss thanks to the emergence of Madison Bumgarner as a true ace, a resurgent season from veteran Tim Hudson, and the trade deadline addition of Jake Peavy. For the third time in five seasons, San Francisco would win the World Series.
Recovering from the surgery, Cain initially seemed to be fine. However, before the 2015 season even got underway he began to experience more arm troubles. Cain was placed on the DL with what was diagnosed as a flexor tendon strain in his forearm, and wouldn’t debut until July 2.
Once he did begin his 2015, Cain experienced the worst season of his career. He had just three Quality Starts in his first ten, and was shuffled to the bullpen towards the end of the year.
Things started well this past season. In his first start of the 2016 campaign, Cain tossed a Quality Start to beat the arch-rival Los Angeles Dodgers. However, he was then pretty much shelled in each of his next five outings.
After May 21, Cain would never reach the 6th inning again in the 2016 season. In September he was completely removed from the Giants starting rotation, and was left off the club’s postseason roster entirely.

What Comes Next?

Cain turned 32 years old on October 1, and he will enter the 2017 season with no promises. He wants a full shot at the starting rotation, and out of respect for what he has accomplished in the past will be given that opportunity in spring training.
“Matt wants to be a starting pitcher, and he’ll come to spring training expecting every opportunity to start, and he deserves that,” GM Bobby Evans said just last month per Andrew Baggarly with The Mercury News“We look at having six viable starters going into spring training and we’ll let that play out. But Matt Cain has obviously meant a lot to the organization. I really associate his name with every one of these championships in different ways.
“And as you look toward 2017, we’ll have to decipher that. But it’s good to have depth and options and that’s a strength of ours. Matt is such an important part of this franchise, we have to be mindful of how we put that rotation together.”

Opportunities Appear Limited

The Giants will return Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto at the top of their rotation in that 2017 season. Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore are locked into the next two places.
The fifth starter role is the best that Cain can shoot for. He will likely have to compete with 26-year old lefty Ty Blach, who impressed in his first big league taste in September. Blach also beat the Chicago Cubs with two innings of strong relief in Game Three of the NLDS.
27-year old Albert Suarez, who made a dozen starts among 22 appearances in 2016, will also be back hoping for a shot. The Giants also have a couple of good-looking prospect starting pitchers who will come to spring training in Clayton Blackburn and Chris Stratton.
To throw a wildcard into the equation, the Giants signed veteran Josh Johnson to a minor league deal a week ago. The injury plagued former Marlins all-star right-hander will turn 33 at the end of January.

Bullpen Role May Wind Down Giants Career

When he was moved to the pen in September, Cain clearly was uncomfortable with the idea, but was willing to do whatever it took to help the Giants return to the postseason.
“Right now, what’s best for all of us, from chatting with Bochy and them, as long as everything goes as it’s going, I’ll stay in the bullpen for the month,” Cain said at the time per SFGate.com’s John Shea. “You never know. Things could change, but right now that looks like it’s the plan.”
Unfortunately for Cain, that might end up being the 2017 plan as well if he cannot beat the tough competition out for the rotation spot. His high salary is not going to guarantee that he automatically gets the 5th starter role.
Cain is owed $21 million next year in the final guaranteed season of an eight-year, $139.75 million deal signed back in 2010. After that, the Giants are surely going to pay him a $7.5 million buyout rather than exercise their $21 million option for the 2018 season.

Matt Cain was a big part of the success that the San Francisco Giants enjoyed in recent years. That time is ending now, with what looks like one final chance to impact the team in the 2017 season.