Why Matt Cain Deserves the Start on Opening Day

Ben FederCorrespondent IFebruary 19, 2014

DENVER, CO - JUNE 29: Matt Cain #18 of the San Francisco Giants throws a pitch during the first inning of the game against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on June 29, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/Getty Images)
Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

Matt Cain has done it all for the San Francisco Giants since he was called up to the Majors in 2005.

He is a three-time All-Star, two-time World Series champion and has thrown one of just 23 perfect games in MLB history. Even though he struggled last year and Madison Bumgarner became the Giants' most consistent starting pitcher, Cain should still get the nod on Opening Day.

First off, I am not taking anything away from Bumgarner and his 2.77 ERA from 2013. The young lefty was dominant all season and should be a Cy Young contender for years to come. He may have the highest ceiling of any Giants pitcher but his turn to start on Opening Day should not be in 2014.

According to John Shea of SFGate.com, he believes that Bumgarner is deserving of the start based off his performance last season. Shea called Bumgarner the "saving grace" of the rotation last season.

Bumgarner was by far and away the best pitcher for the Giants in 2013, but that does not mean that manager Bruce Bochy should go with his southpaw. Cain has accomplished so much in a Giants uniform and should be standing on the mound come March 31. 

From 2008 through 2012, Cain threw for more than 200 innings each season and never had an ERA higher than 3.76. He has been the bulldog of the Giants rotation and one of the club’s most reliable pitchers until his down year in 2013. After four years of Tim Lincecum being the Opening Day starter, Cain was given the ball to begin 2013. 

During the first half of last season, Cain had a 5.06 ERA but had a post All-Star break ERA of 2.36. Cain may have had a very forgettable few months from April to July but he returned to his old form and finished the season strong. A three-month hiccup should not prevent him from being the rotation’s No. 1. 

While Lincecum was struggling in 2012, Cain took the reins of the rotation, went 16-5 and finished the year with a 2.79 ERA. Cain proved he could be a dominant No. 1 pitcher and went on to win two elimination games in the Giants' World Series run. 

If Cain does not start on Opening Day, it would signify the torch being passed down to Bumgarner as the next great Giants pitcher to lead the club. Is Cain ready to be second in line to Bumgarner already? I doubt it.