Matt Cain has struggled the last two seasons, posting an ERA over 4 in back to back years. I think this was injury related. Watching Cain pitch, he didn't have the same bite on his breaking pitches and often left hangers over the heart of the plate, which I suspect led to a rise in home run to fly ball ratio. Hitters were receiving juicy pitches that Cain never let them have before. Cain couldn't snap off the same type of breaking pitch due to bone chips in his elbow that crippled the range of motion in his arm. Cain has since had his elbow cleaned up, and I think he's primed for a bounce back year.
First, this from injury expert Will Carroll:
One guy I'm seeing significantly undervalued (ADP: 285!!) is Matt Cain. People don't understand the surgery he had and normal rehab path.— Will Carroll (@injuryexpert) February 19, 2015
Then, this from Andrew Baggarly in February:
If you listened to Matt Cain's fastball pop, watched his curveball swoop and gauged his smooth delivery off a bullpen mound Friday, you'd never know that he was coming off two surgeries.
"There's nothing I can't do," said Cain, adding that his arm has never felt stronger following several months of shoulder exercises. "The ball definitely feels like it's coming out easier."
The sight of a healthy Cain had pitching coach Dave Righetti beaming."I was really excited," Righetti said. "His timing was terrific, his mechanics are the same. It's just getting the arm a little freer so he gets the feel back and the timing back."
Baggarly added that it's been several years since Cain could fully straighten his throwing arm; the bone chips reduced the range of motion significantly.
Buster Posey added, "The main thing I started noticing last year -- you know how he is, he's never going to say anything's bothering him -- but he was grimacing a lot. I didn't notice that at all (today)."
And today, March 9, Cain took on the Dodgers' A lineup and looked excellent, taking just 20 pitches to get 6 outs.
Cain’s curveball looks good so far. Has thrown two nice ones. Five up, five down so far. #sfgiants— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) March 9, 2015
The increased range of motion from the elbow clean up will allow Cain to snap off his curve better, leading to more of a break on the pitch. The hanging, flat breaking pitch over the heart of the plate that hurt Cain the last two seasons should be no more.
Cain's current ADP in Yahoo leagues is 205. I expect Cain to significantly outperform that.