On his KNBR morning show gig, Kruk was discussing Cain - again noting how Cain can get out hitters even when he only has his fastball - and noted how much Cain reminds him of Tom Seaver, which DrB has been saying here for a long while now.
Kruk also said that Cain reminds him of Nolan Ryan, in terms of fastball pitchers.
The discussion was about how Cain was different from the well-known Giants pitchers from history. Brian Murphy sadly did not know that Marichial's key to pitching was being able to throw his fastball from multiple angles, but did note astutely that Cain is unlike other Giants pitchers of the past like Gaylord Perry, Krukow, Swift, Burkett (my memory fuzzy here on list, these names were all noted at some point or other in the talk). Kruk noted that he had to fool hitters with his location to get them out, in, out, up, down.
That got me thinking, is Cain really the first pure fastballer we have had? Christy Mathewson made his name with his "fadeaway" pitch, which is the screwball that Carl Hubbell threw that resulted in his arm being permanently twisted when he retired. Marichial had his arm angles. Perry had his, um, special pitch. Most of the Giants pitching greats had a specialty pitch that they used to get hitters out, none were pure fireballers like Cain.
Montefusco did not come up in the conversation, which is too bad, Kruk might have actually seen him pitch and could have given us his view, but obviously while he was huge to Giants fans like me from the early to mid-70's, he's just a footnote to history for most baseball fans, and a trivia answer for most Giants fans (Who pitched the Giants last no-hitter?). And while he struck out a lot of hitters, I never saw much written about his fastball, how it compared to others of his day.
Anyway, back to Cain. Murphy then asked Krukow a good question: what was the difference between the Cain suffering mightily in the early season and the dominating Cain today? Kruk said something I had heard before but that I had forgotten: the difference was basically confidence, confidence in his fastball, confidence that he could handle MLB hitters. Kruk felt Cain gave hitters too much credit and went away from the way he was pitching to get him up here, throwing his secondary pitches early in the count, but now he knows his fastball cannot be hit by hitters and so he goes for the kill from the start of each count. And when he got his curveball and slider going too, like he did yesterday, then the other team is really in trouble! And Kruk said that now that Cain has confidence, he is going to be like this for the rest of his career.
Krukow also noted, when asked what he thought about leaving in Cain to pitch the 9th last night, he said that he would have loved to see Cain in there and learn how to finish games, but understands the concern over pitch counts. However, and here's where the Seaver/Nolan reference came in, he thought Cain has the build to be a 150 pitch pitcher, a pitcher like Seaver and Ryan. I think that generally people worry too much about pitch count too, but understand the concern over young pitcher's arms, but if you assume that nobody can handle it, then by default no one ever will. But that's probably the old fogey in me talking, I still remember when pitchers thought it was normal to have a complete game, not a rarity.
I still would prefer to have Cain over any of the other young pitchers that others here have trooled over. I guess that's the fan in me talking, as I haven't done any statistical comparison and wouldn't be able to compare each pitcher's repertoise, but from what I've read and seen how they perform, I would put the excitement level of when Cain pitches up there with any of the other pitchers. I think he'll be the first of any of those young pitchers to throw a no-hitter, which is not a stretch to say, look at all the 1 and 2 hitters he has thrown already and he's not even 22 yet. I'll say again what I've said before: barring injury, Cain will be the face of the Giants for the forseeable future, hopefully taking us to the final payment for the park in 2018, if not later.