Braden wasn't the least likely candidate for a perfect game (cough, cough,
Braden isn't striking out any more batters than he usually does and his 3.46 fielder independent pitching rate (FIP) is close to last year's 3.73. So how has he dropped half a run off his ERA? Better control and some good luck. His BB/9 is 1.37, less than half of last year's 2.77.
The good luck part comes as a result of his .245 batting average on balls in play (BABIP). That's well under his career .308 rate and probably won't continue.
Bottom line: Perfect game or not, this is a guy likely to finish with a FIP around 3.80 and a K/9 near 5.50 (Paul Maholm circa 2009).
A few other intriguing stories around the league:
Here's the full take on Lincecum: He's really good. With a K/9 of 11.92, a K/BB of 6.40 and a non-lucky BABIP of .300, (plus a nearly identical 1.87 FIP and 1.86 ERA) it's hard to imagine anyone being better this year.
Jimenez brings up a more interesting question. How do you value a preseason hyped/ace-in-waiting/dark horse Cy Young contender wholives up to the billing?
There was an avalanche of buzz about Jimenez and he's actually managed to exceed it. Still, he's stranding an unsustainably high rate of base runners (90.0 left on-base percentage), and he's still struggling with walks (3.72 BB/9).
Jimenez is an outstanding pitcher, but if you have the chance to bank on his hot start and flip him for a better starter, (Lincecum,
Other pitchers fighting for an FCA in 2010:
Rowland-Smith -- K/9: 2.97, BB/9: 4.32
Pitchers flirting with the 1.00 K/BB mark are fantasy baseball kryptonite. They have either ridiculously high BB/9 rates, ridiculously low K/9 rates, or an ugly combination of both. It's safe to say you don't want any of these pitchers on your fantasy team in standard-sized leagues (12-team mixed or smaller).
His K/9 is down to 6.08 (9.19 last year), his HR/9 is up to 1.46 (1.06 last year), his GB% is down and his LD% is up, and his fastball has lost some zip, averaging 91.8 mph (93.6 last year). Predictably, his FIP is an unhealthy 5.21.
If Max isn't hurt, there's a major mechanical issue that's sapped both his fastball velocity and his strikeout ability. That needs to be fixed, pronto. Hold onto him due to his potential, but don't start him until he gets his wrinkles ironed out for a couple of consecutive starts.
Like a ticking time bomb, it's just a matter of time until reality sets in for some early-season overachievers, and their earned run average (ERA) explodes. These pitchers have the highest negative difference between ERA and FIP so far in 2010.
Other names of note currently sporting an ERA-FIP difference bigger than -1.20: