Following yesterday's 6IP, 7K, 0R performance v. Portland, King Felix now leads the PCL in ERA, and is second in wins. However, he's still looking up to Matt Cain in Ks and in K/9IP.
Angry Giants fans have lobbied Baseball America, John Sickels, ESPN, CNN and the WTO to have Cain recognized as everything that Felix is, plus a bit more. He's young (though a year older than Felix), has posted dominating K/IP numbers, and has flown up the ranks, just like Felix.
This year, however, a problem's developed: HRs. Despite nearly identical H/9, Cain's allowed 3X more HRs than Felix (9 to 3). This has led to Cain's solid-if-unspectacular ERA, while Felix's stinginess (especially for a power pitcher) results in a PCL leading ERA of 2.32 (just ahead, I should mention, of Kevin Freakin' Jarvis).
This brings up a few questions:
- How much of a problem is Cain's HR proclivities? It's obviously concerning, but does it completely negate his remarkable K/9? Does it even slow his timetable down, when he's looking at a Giants rotation featuring Jesse Foppert (who was inferior to Cain across the board at Fresno) and Noah Lowry, who's 2-6 and has given up 12 HR.
- How much of this is league dependent? I mean, Cain's had to pitch in places like Albuquerque and Las Vegas. Would Cain's HR/9 drop in MLB?
- How much of Felix's skill at keeping fly balls in the outfield is the result of Cheney stadium?
- How consistent is a pitcher's HR/9IP anyway? I know Eric Milton, Ryan Franklin, Bert Blyleven, etc. always gave up a lot of HRs, but for people who are average-to-good at preventing HRs, what sort of variability can be expected from season to season?
- Both Cain and Felix are not exactly command artists. They both have walked 40 in around 70 innings. Cain is ever so slightly worse in the BB/9IP category, but it's basically a wash. As a GM, Scout, fan, etc., what worries you more? A few HRs, or a lot of walks?