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.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.