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Entries in Matt Cain (15)


More Change Ups for Matt Cain

Matt Cain (SFN) altered his pitch selection significantly so far in 2011.  During the previous three seasons, Matt relied on his fastball, working a change up occasionally.  He used the heater 62.1% of time time, with the change tapped 11.6% of the time. The pitch barely shows up in comparison to the fastball:

Matt Cain, break on fastball and change up, 2008-2010.The change is represent by the small tail down and toward a right-handed batter.  In 2011, Cain throws fewer fastballs and more change ups, the change accounting for nearly a quarter of his pitches.

Matt Cain, break on fastball and change up, 2011.The tail stands out more as fastballs are down to 56.4% and changes are up to 24.2%.  Why the change to the change?  During the three previous seasons, Cain's fastball resulted in a .306 wOBA, while his change brought him a .282 wOBA.  In 2011, those numbers are closer, but the change still wins .287 to .293 for the fastball.

Cain didn't stop with just throwing more change ups, he's throwing them farther down and out than before.  In 2008-2010, he threw the pitch for strikes.

Matt Cain, change up location, 2008-2010.This season it's more likely to be out of the strike zone:

Matt Cain, change up location, 2011.It's not clear that this shift really helped Matt, as he's getting more ball on the ground, but giving up more hits as well.  That said, pitchers run the risk of becoming too predictable.  Altering his pattern puts something new in the mind of his opposing hitters, and that works to the pitcher's advantage.


Cain's Home/Road FB Splits

Dave Cameron posted a discussion he had with Rory Paap over at FanGraphs regarding Matt Cain's HR/FB rate. Park factor came up in their discussion and I was curious to see if there was any major difference in fly ball distance in his home/road splits.

In the last 3 seasons, fly balls hit off Cain's fastball averaged 320 feet of distance at AT&T park, compared to 313 feet on the road. Not a tremendous difference. Although it was interesting that fly ball HRs off of Cain fastballs traveled an average of 410 feet at home, while traveling 424 feet in away parks.


Cain's Mark on the Postseason

Matt Cain has been brilliant so far this Postseason.  He's held batters to a .173/.259/.187 line over 21.1 innings.  He's allowed 13 total hits, only one for extra bases, and has struck out 13.

When he broke into the league, Matt Cain showcased a mid-nineties fastball.  He's turned into more of a finesse pitcher, with his fastball now averaging around 92 mph.  As a result, Cain no longer blows away batters with high cheese as much as he once did, but instead relies on his secondary pitches more.

During the regular season, Cain tended to get hit harder up in the zone.  Against lefties, pitches down and in were hit hard as well.

Matt Cain 2010 SLG% Against SplitCain has been extremely efficient at avoiding throwing to those danger areas in the postseason.

Matt Cain 2010 Postseason Pitch FrequencyAs the heatmaps indicate, Cain has avoided throwing in to lefties, an area that has given him trouble.  Overall, he's also avoided sailing fastballs up in the zone to both hitters.  This kind of control is a big part of his great success so far in October.

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