He hasn’t reached Philip Humber territory in terms of struggling after throwing a perfect game, but Matt Cain has a 4.40 ERA since making history on June 14 and the Giants have lost six of his nine starts during that time.
Cain has a strong 46/16 K/BB ratio in 57 innings over that nine-start stretch, but he’s served up 10 homers in 243 plate appearances after allowing just seven homers in 364 plate appearances through the perfect game. And last season Cain allowed a grand total of nine homers in 907 plate appearances.
Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com notes that Cardinals hitters fouled off 37 pitches in beating Cain last night, including 13 with two strikes. And afterward Cain admitted that “putting away guys better” has been a problem.
And then there’s this tidbit from Baggarly:
Those who use advanced metrics have been forever fascinated by his suppressed home run/fly ball ratio, sometimes calling it unexplainable or unsustainable but certainly calling it an outlier. Last year, just 2.9 percent of Cain’s fly balls were home runs; the NL average was 7.9 percent. It was the most extreme example in what’s been a career trend. … This season, perhaps he’s deviating to the norm. His home run/fly ball ratio is 7.7 percent, nestled right up against the NL average of 7.9 percent.
Cain becoming mortal in terms of allowing homers is definitely interesting, but it’s also worth noting that even with that career-worst homer-to-fly ball rate overall this season his ERA (3.01) is better than his xFIP (3.62) for the eighth consecutive year.
Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.
It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.
Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:
He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.
“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”
The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.