Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Matt Cain has been a mixed bag so far in 2013.
Through nine starts this season, Matt Cain has been anything but a $20 million man.
After his latest start, in which he allowed six earned runs while serving up three long balls to the Colorado Rockies, Cain’s ERA sits at a lofty 5.43.
Even more troubling: Cain has allowed 13 home runs—most in the majors.
While Cain does have a history of giving up the long ball, he has never allowed them at such an alarming rate.
According to Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area, Cain had given up three (or four) home runs in a game just five times in his career coming into 2013. This season, it has already happened three times in just nine starts.
Yet the home runs can’t be blamed entirely for Cain’s struggles.
In Cain’s four home starts, he has surrendered only two home runs. Still, his ERA at spacious AT&T Park is 5.40—nearly identical to his 5.46 road ERA.
Cain’s biggest problem in 2013 has been his inability to strand runners on base.
Through his nine starts, his left on base percentage (LOB%) is only 67.6, meaning 32.4 percent of the runners to reach base against Cain have ultimately come around to score.
In 2012, Cain stranded 79 percent of his baserunners.
So why the sudden change this year?
According to his PITCHf/x data, Cain is allowing more line drives than in years past. The two biggest culprits: his slider and fourseam fastball, which also happen to be the pitches he throws most frequently.
In 2012, those two pitches combined for a 7.02 line drive percentage (LD%). This year, those same pitches have yielded a combined LD% of 11.54.
That’s going to have to change.