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  1. The low % of sliders against LHH is surprising to me, unless it simply doesn’t have enough movement to jam someone. If I were a RHP with a hard-breaking slider, I’d consider throwing that thing to a LHH, keeping it a little up and a little in (breaking farther in). It’d be essentially unhittable (into fair territory) and could induce a lot of swinging strikes on guys looking to pull, or foul balls and pop ups.

    But I can’t do that, so I’m not a major league pitcher.

    The slider is coming in this year at 85 mph, a decent offset from the 91mph FB.

    I guess I’m unclear why so few LHH would see the slider (unless, like I said, it doesn’t have much sharpness). He sees it as a strike-out pitch, it seems, but why not throw it in other counts?

    Minutia, I guess. Just surprising.

    Watched all of Cain’s game on Sunday, and it was a really dominating performance.

    Comment by Zack — September 27, 2010 @ 4:55 pm

  2. Has Cain really faced exactly the same number of LHH and RHH? How does that 50% ratio compare with other starters?

    Comment by LondonStatto — September 27, 2010 @ 5:40 pm

  3. Interesting that Cain has face exactly the same number of RHH and LHH so far this year.

    Comment by Nate — September 27, 2010 @ 5:42 pm

  4. I’ll have to check this, doesn’t look right to me.

    Comment by Albert Lyu — September 27, 2010 @ 5:43 pm

  5. It should be correct. If you look at his L/R splits in 2010, he pitched 108.2 innings to LHH and 110.2 innings to RHH. Interesting that I didn’t take not of this in the post, good catch though.

    Comment by Albert Lyu — September 27, 2010 @ 5:46 pm

  6. B-Ref has it at 437 against LHH and 438 against RHH, so it’s right. League-wide, RHP have faced 68000 RHH and 60000 LHH, so you would expect a tough righty like Cain to be about even. What seems more amazing is how similar the pitch-count graph is for each side. He gets behind a little more against LHH, but I can’t imagine many other pitchers are this consistent against both sides.

    Comment by LeeTro — September 27, 2010 @ 5:54 pm

  7. Your pitch description is more of a cutter than a slider. Cain’s slider has more downward bite than lateral movement. Pitch F/X has it at 2 inches of horizontal movement; not much, but enough to get RHH reaching. Plus, most LHH like the ball down-and-in, which is where a RH slider usually ends up.

    Comment by LeeTro — September 27, 2010 @ 6:01 pm

  8. Matt Cain had a BABIP of .268 last year and .257 this year.

    Question for the sabers. Is it safe to say Cain “knows” how to pitch to contact? I mean if you ask me, consistently getting pop ups with his high fastball up in the zone has shown me that it is a repeatable skill. It should be measured like groundouts for sinkerballers.

    Cain is a stud. Throw his FIP and XFIP out the window. Dude is just a flat out horse.

    Comment by Nick — September 27, 2010 @ 9:28 pm

  9. Nick, I did consider doing this, and it’s definitely doable, hopefully I’ll look at contact off Cain’s high fastballs in a future post, maybe comparing between 2009-2010 and 2007-2008.

    Comment by Albert Lyu — September 27, 2010 @ 9:30 pm

  10. Great idea Albert. Good to know stat guys like you are willing to do extra research to see how different types of pitchers get guys out.

    Comment by Nick — September 27, 2010 @ 9:36 pm

  11. You should also attempt to determine the percentage of his fastballs that are fouled off. I’d venture to say it’s among the highest in the NL. Very difficult to square up his fastball, which is why he throws it so much. Tremendous late life and explosion

    Comment by tyler — September 28, 2010 @ 1:58 am

  12. Spot on. Also remember that he throws out of a 3/4 arm slot, and his arm is really quick. It’s one of those fastballs that will sit 90-93, but he will just whizz it by you up in the zone.

    Comment by Nick — September 28, 2010 @ 3:17 am

  13. Really interesting post. I’d be very intrigued to see how Cain’s changeup usage compares to Lincecum’s, Sanchez’s, and Bumgarner’s, as Dave Righetti and the Giants’ managerial staff seems to be trying to get each of their starters (outside of Zito) to throw the pitch more and more often. It’d be cool to see whether they’re being used in the same way by each pitcher, especially in terms of the righties (Timmy and Cain) against the lefties (Sanchez and Bumgarner), i.e., whether Bumgarner throws his change to righties (especially early in the count) as much as Cain does to left-handed hitters.

    Comment by saberbythebay — September 28, 2010 @ 11:54 am

  14. His pitch selection was all Buster Posey in that Rockies game. Cain didn’t shake him off once and said in the post game interview that he was just going to concentrate on what Posey was calling.

    Posey knows that staff now and the historic run of games under 3 runs in September shows that. He should be the NL ROY just based on his defense and game calling at probably the toughest position for a rookie to master in the bigs. Not to mention his plus bat from a weak offensive position.

    Comment by Larry Yocum — September 28, 2010 @ 2:43 pm

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