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Matt Cain hasn’t been himself since throwing perfect game

Aug 7, 2012, 12:48 PM EDT

Matt Cain, Buster Posey

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 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.

  1. mybrunoblog - Aug 7, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    Maybe it’s just me but I’d like to see some stats. It seems like every time a guys throws a no-no or a perfect game, his season and sometimes his career(see:David Cone) takes a huge shit in the following weeks, months, seasons.

    • ThisIsBaseball - Aug 7, 2012 at 1:18 PM

      Or Galarraga, or Humber, and while I have no stats to back it up, CC hasn’t seemed to be as dominant as he was before he threw the almost-perfect game last season.

    • paperlions - Aug 7, 2012 at 1:18 PM

      It’s just you and your pal confirmation bias.

      • seeinred87 - Aug 7, 2012 at 3:29 PM

        That’s not confirmation bias; he just said it seems that way.

      • paperlions - Aug 7, 2012 at 3:46 PM

        Yes, it “seems” that way to him because he only remembers instances consistent with that idea, while failing to remember instances that are not consistent with it….which is why it “seems” that way, when it isn’t.

      • seeinred87 - Aug 7, 2012 at 4:31 PM

        OK a couple clarifications:

        I didn’t take his use of “every time” to mean literally every time or even almost all the time

        And by his use of “it seems,” I took his statement to be more of a hypothesis than a declaration. His stated desire to see the stats reinforced this for me.

        Obviously if he let his hypothesis influence his interpretation of the data, that would be confirmation bias, but I just saw it as a starting point for some research (which I’m sure has already been done a few times anyway).

    • kkolchak - Aug 7, 2012 at 4:09 PM

      Johnny Vander Meer begs to differ.

  2. hcf95688 - Aug 7, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    Who did he throw that perfect game against? Maybe he should just face the Astros more often.

  3. minimoose763 - Aug 7, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    I wonder if skipping a start would make a difference. Bochy has relied heavily on his starters to go deep into games this year and it might be catching up to Cain. In fact, I think the Giants bullpen has the fewest innings pitched in the league.

  4. nineroutsider - Aug 8, 2012 at 12:20 AM

    And everybody slumps sometimes…

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