I am a righteous, logic-fearing man. Walk under a ladder if you want. Light three cigarettes on one match. Things don’t happen in threes; you just notice when they do. And Matt Cain isn’t cursed with low run support.
Wait a sec. He is, actually. Dude’s cursed. He must have gotten drunk and whizzed on Abner Doubleday’s grave, or something. When it comes to baseball, superstitions are completely appropriate. Lucky hats, unwashed underwear, same pre-game meal…it all affects the game. And I don’t know what Matt Cain did, but he’s cursed.
It still kills me to hear something like "Maybe this is the year Matt Cain lives up to his promise." He can get better, sure, and I hope that he does. But he’s already very, very good. If you’ve concocted some secret scenario that ends with the Giants pulling a ’97, you’re probably counting on Cain to be as good, if not better.
Things we know about Cain: His strikeout rate is good. His walk rate isn’t. He’s in the best shape of his life, according to some spring articles, and they don’t just write that about anyone. C’mon, now. He lowered his ERA in the second half last year, but he actually pitched worse. The Giants see him as a "horse," with a "strong pitcher’s body", which means he "can throw 160 pitches in a single inning if he needs to," even though he’s only 24. He’s pitched over 200 innings in two straight seasons. He throws mostly fastballs, and his average changeup is faster than Barry Zito’s fastball.
Projection systems on Cain:
ZiPS: 219 IP, 183 K, 86 BB, 3.62 ERA, 13-10
CHONE: 189 IP, 166 K, 76 BB, 3.76 ERA, 11-10
PECOTA: 190 IP, 168 K, 72 BB, 3.94 ERA, 11-11
It’s interesting that the system with the highest projected walk rate also has the lowest projection ERA. My guess:
I usually don’t include W-L, but…yeah. The walks go down, and the ERA goes down. The walks stay the same, and ERA stays the same. The walks go up, and the ERA goes up. Walks, walks, walks. Don’t walk so many, Matty, and you’ll be fine. Well, not fine. You’ll still lose 15, but that’s because you’re cursed. A good pitcher, of course. Just cursed. Good luck with that.