Monday, August 31, 2009
The New York Yankees continue to insist that they play by the "Joba Rules". Joba Chamberlain must not exceed his innings limit, or his arm just might fall off. So they decided to spend the past few weeks toying with him and the rest of the pitching staff. He gets 8 days off here and there and now he's limited to 35 pitches in one of his starts. The Yankees have invested money in Joba, the best way to protect his arm is to not have it pitch. And yet everytime I see this I think to myself, Matt Cain.
Hi "Joba Rules", meet Matt Cain. Matt Cain is currently amongst the front runners for the Cy Young. The combination of Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain is the singular reason the Giants are tied for the wild card. He's a 24 year old horse who already has two 200 innings pitched seasons under his belt and is well on his way to his third consecutive season with 200 plus.
So how did Matt Cain develop into such a horse? He pitched, and he pitched a lot. In 2002 Matt Cain was drafted and threw just 17 innings in the minors. In 2003 he was lost for the season due to arm troubles. Then in 2004 the Giants ramped up the youngsters inning totals full throttle. As a 19 year old Matt Cain threw 158.2 innings. As a 20 year old Cain threw 192 innings between the minors and the Giants. A horse was born.
The Giants did exactly the opposite of what the Yankees are doing with Joba. They threw Cain, they threw him a lot and now he's a dominant beast capable of throwing potentially 220 innings this season. He has not broken down in any of the past 4 seasons.
Maybe Matt Cain has better mechanics than Joba. Maybe he's just better built for the long haul of an MLB season than Joba. I don't know. What I do know is that the two pitchers have incredibly similar builds (within an inch and 10 lbs), and that playing around with a pitchers inning totals isn't the only way to build up a pitcher. Just see Matt Cain.