Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Stats & Info [Print without images]

Saturday, July 21, 2012
Matt Cain's curveball is more than able


Saturday's best pitching matchup is in Philadelphia between the Philadelphia Phillies' Cole Hamels and the San Francisco Giants' Matt Cain.

Matt Cain
Cain
In his last three starts against the Phillies, Cain has allowed one earned run in 24 innings. He’s walked just four batters in those three starts and has a 0.46 WHIP. And, in his last three starts at Citizens Bank Park, Cain’s ERA is 1.60 with a 0.85 WHIP.

Cain’s WHIP this season is 0.96, the lowest in the National League. Right-handed hitters in 2012 have a .167 batting average against Cain, that’s the lowest among right-handed starting pitchers.

More on Cain in 2012:
• His walk percent is a career-low 5.0
• His strikeout percent is a career-high 24.9
• He's allowing 6.8 hits per nine innings, that’s the lowest in a season in his career
• His strikeout percent of 22.1 with his fastball is the sixth highest among qualifiers

As good has his fastball has been this season, Cain’s curveball is markedly improved.

In 2009, opponents hit .319 against Cain’s curve and struck out only 11.4 percent of the time on the pitch. This season, that average is down to .188 and he strikes out hitters almost 35 percent of the time with his hook.

As good as Cain’s curveball has been, Hamels’ changeup has been even better.

Hamels has struck out a league-best 71 batters with his changeup. He leads all qualified pitchers in strike percentage with his changeup (75.4). In fact, Hamels and Stephen Strasburg are the only qualifiers this season with a miss percentage of at least 50 percent when throwing a changeup.

Entering play on Friday, Hamels has accounted for 11 of Philadelphia’s 41 wins this season. He’s one just three pitchers (along with R.A. Dickey and David Price) to account for at least 25 percent of his team’s wins this season.