Cain has been a career workhorse, posting six straight years of 200+ innings pitched and 32+ games started. His ERA has been below four since 2006, further cementing a consistent reputation. Constantly under the radar, the public was fully exposed to his talents during the 2010 season.
In a truly dominating postseason run, Cain started three games without giving up a single earned run. He went 2-0, while pitching 21.1 total innings. At this point, the entire league finally became aware of the 1-2 punch Lincecum and Cain brought to the top of the Giants rotation.
The 2012 season saw the unimaginable. The Giants superstar, ace, and ultimate fan favorite had lost his control. Lincecum had become mortal, losing all semblance of his former self. The Freak posted a career worst 5.18 ERA and lost 15 games, resulting in a -2.0 WAR.
Even with the Giants ace ailing, the team was able to rely on the rest of its vaunted rotation. Cain led this charge, posting a 2.79 ERA with 16 wins and only five losses. These all-star numbers included 2.19 innings pitched as well as 193 strikeouts. Cain had clearly become the ace of the rotation, and consistently brought solid play throughout the entire year.
This 2013 season has been a different story, with Cain struggling to establish any sort of consistency. With every well-pitched game has come a meltdown. The biggest issue has been the number of homeruns he has given up. Cain is tied for fifth in the league for most homeruns given up by a pitcher. He has also been prone to the big inning, giving up six runs in the third inning against the Dodgers this past Friday.
Cain has given up 6+ runs five times this season, with at least one of these starts occurring in each of the four months so far. He has been unable to right the ship or get any sort of rhythm. The Giants ace has never experienced such a volatile season, but has the mental fortitude to rough it out. Most pundits can agree that if there is one pitcher on that rotation who can reestablish dominance, it’s Matt Cain.