After the seven golden swans flew overhead, the seven bubbling springs of purity welled up from the earth surrounding McCovey Cove. A single note from a trumpet of light announced the first pitch, and open weeping was contagious. It was Matt Cain's first start.
If I may repeat myself, Cain roping in his talent to be a league-average starter by next season is a privilege, not a right. The first look at Cain was about what we could expect. The fastball was quick and lively, the breaking ball was a magnificent tease about 10% of the time, and the control was much closer to Russ Ortiz than Roger Clemens. For a 20-year old kid, though, Cain was as good as the Dead Sea Scrolls predicted.
The fastball is what made him a first-round pick, and it's dirtier than the average pair of socks at a Phish show. Major kudos to the FSN Bay Area camera crew for giving us behind-the-plate vantage points of the short-arm release, which makes the fastball look even quicker. The Rockies were getting a few good swings, but only because they could sit fastball, and react to a breaking ball. Every now and again, a freaky slider would shoot out of Cain's arm at Mach 7, and the Rockie hitter would do well just to get a piece.
The difference between Cain being a #1 or #2 starter, and Cain being a bit better than the average innings-eater is the consistency of the slider, curve, or change. Like you needed me to tell you that, but the truth can be boring. Give the kid one more pitch to rely on at any point in the count, and he's a rotation mainstay for as long as his health permits. When I was 20, I considered it an achievement to wake up before noon. It was hard to be anything but impressed with Cain in his first start.