If you are a San Francisco Giants fan, you are probably thinking the sky is falling on Matt Cain. Seeing as he has a 6.46 ERA and a negative fWAR, I can’t really blame you for being a little uneasy, especially since Tim Lincecum did the same thing last season. However, unlike Lincecum’s struggles, Cain’s problems – or better yet problem – is easily detectable.
There are a lot of statistics to look at when you are trying to figure out why a player is struggling. Most of the time the answer lies in BABIP, but Cain’s BABIP is on par with his career average. Left on base percentage (LOB%) is another statistic that helps paint the picture, and Cain’s is about 13 percent lower than his career average, which goes to show he isn’t leaving many runners stranded. Luckily for Cain and the Giants, though, that number should even out over the course of the season. But the real issue that is giving Cain problems is that he is allowing a lot of home runs.
In his career, Cain has a very respectable 0.79 HR/9. This season, however, Cain has a staggering 2.34 HR/9, which is an outlier if I have ever seen one. This simple fact should help ease the panic for Giants fans, figuring that it is mathematically impossible for him to continue to allow home runs at this rate. If Cain’s velocity was dropped and he changed the way he pitched, I would be worried about his success in 2013 — but that’s not the case at all.
So don’t fret, Giants fans. Your ace is going to be just fine.