Chris Humphreys/USA TODAY Sports
Once assumed the ace of the staff, Matt Cain is the lynchpin if the Giants are to return to the postseason. The team needs him to perform like a top-end-of-the-rotation starter, something he failed to do last season. In 2013, he threw fewer than 200 total innings and his ERA rose above four, neither of which he had done since 2006.
The best explanation for his regression? He battled a number of minor injuries throughout the year, including bone spurs in his throwing elbow, before landing on the disabled list after getting drilled by a scorching comebacker.
Coming off a full offseason to recuperate, this spring will be very telling as to whether or not last year’s problems were simply a matter of health.
If he produces the same results that helped the team win two world championships in three years, then fans can breath easy heading into the season. However, if Cain picks up where he left off last season, it will show his problems run deeper than health issues, an ominous sign for a team reliant on a bounce-back season from No. 18.