Originally posted on Fantasy Baseball 365  |  Last updated 2/24/12

Key Stats: Matt Cain threw less fastballs than he’s ever thrown last season. He threw fastballs 8.5% less fastballs than he had in 2010. The result was a career high number of groundballs and a career low number of fly balls against him. In the end his strikeout and walk rates didn’t change too significantly, but his ERA was as low as it has ever been.

Skeptics Say: The pitch that Cain turned to most frequently in lieu of the fastball was his slider. The last time Cain threw the slider for such a high percentage of his overall pitches was in 2007. He followed that season up with the worst WHIP of his career (1.36). Although the number of sliders wasn’t alarmingly high, it was more than the norm and the stress it puts on a pitchers arm is difficult to measure over the long term. For as great as he’s been at making 30-plus starts every season, it’s always something worth watching.

Peer Comparison: CBS has Cain ranked as the 27th best starting pitcher, so I’m not even going to go there. As a person that ranks players and has also made horrible errors I’m going to give them a pass. Instead I wanted to compare Cain to Yovani Gallardo. Gallardo is ranked ahead of Cain at Yahoo this season despite finishing 36 spots behind Cain in the final rankings last season. It is a head scratcher even after that point, but consider the seasons that both had in 2009 and 2010.

2010 Season

Player

ERA

WHIP

K

IP

BB/9

Cain

3.14

1.08

177

223.1

2.46

Gallardo

3.84

1.37

200

185

3.65

2009 Season

Player

ERA

WHIP

K

IP

BB/9

Cain

2.89

1.18

171

217.2

3.02

Gallardo

3.73

1.31

204

185.2

4.56

Gallardo will be 26 this season while Cain will be 27 years old. Give Gallardo credit for getting his walk rate down, but Cain is a better player. The only way I take Gallardo ahead of Cain is if I’m really desperate for strikeouts.

Team Outlook: The Giants outfield got a little worse in the off-season defensively. Aubrey Huff will probably head in that direction to make room for Brandon Belt or vise-versa. The team also got worse by bringing in Angel Pagan for Andres Torres in the outfield. Hopefully Cain continues to get groundballs so that none of these changes matter.

What They’re Saying: CBS Sporstline: #27 Starting Pitcher; Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN.com: #13 Starting Pitcher & #48 Overall; Yahoo: #14 Starting Pitcher & #57 Overall; Mock Draft Central ADP : #16 Starting Pitcher & #76 Overall; RotoChamp: #37 Overall

Projection: For the fourth straight season, Matt Cain will be a top 60 overall player.
15 wins 3.07 ERA 1.12 WHIP 172 K in 210 innings

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