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.
Over the winter there was serious talk about the Pirates trading Andrew McCutchen to the Washington Nationals. His move to left field to allow Starling Marte to take over center further served to make McCutchen a less important part of the Pirates long term plans.
Then the season began, Marte got suspended for PEDs and, after a bumpy start, McCutchen caught fire. He hit .411/.505/.689 in June he has a .333/.444/.561 line in the month of July. For the year he’s now at .292/.384/.507 with 17 homers and 57 RBI. Even with Marte back on the roster, McCutchen is the Pirates’ center fielder. What’s more, the Pirates, after beginning the season slowly have righted the ship somewhat and are now only three games back in the NL Central.
All of which makes this, from Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, unsurprising:
That option is a quite reasonable $14.5 million, so it seems sorta crazy that they wouldn’t pick it up. Of course if they remain coy enough about it for now perhaps someone will bowl them over with an offer. Letting McCutchen walk seems insane. Unloading him for a hefty haul would, well, still be kinda crazy given how popular McCutchen is with the fan base, but not truly insane.
The Brewers were rumored last week to have been “aggressive” in talks for Tigers reliever Justin Wilson. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports, however, that the talks are a bit more wide-ranging than that.
Crasnick says that the two clubs are also discussing Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, potentially in a package deal with Wilson. Crasnick says that the Brewers “would love to have Kinsler,” but their main focus at the moment is pitching help. Of course, the Brewers current second baseman — Jonathan Villar — is hitting a meager .223/.285/.348 in 334 plate appearances.
Kinsler is having a down season for him — .237/.331/.400 — but he’s better than that and, of course, would represent an improvement. He’s under contract through the end of this year but he has a very affordable, $10 million club option for 2018. Wilson will be arbitration-eligible this offseason, so he’s still under team control as well. As such a Kinsler/Wilson package would likely cost the Brewers a high price, so you have to think they’d try to exhaust cheaper options before making such a deal.
The Brewers had been in first place in the NL Central since June 7, but the Cubs caught them yesterday. They’re in a virtual tie, with Chicago percentage points ahead. This should prove to be a very interesting week for the Brewers’ front office.