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What's causing Cain's downturn?
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - If you think that a 28-year-old who has a career 3.34 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP in 1,571 1/3 innings can suddenly lose the ability to put the ball where he wants it, then there's your reason to sell San Francisco Giants starter Matt Cain.

I, on the other hand, am buying Cain's career consistency even though the results haven't been pretty so far.

Cain didn't allow his ninth homer until June 29 or walk his 10th batter until May 17 last season, but he already has done both of those things this year, in just 34 1/3 innings.

However, his biggest issue has been location rather than something physically wrong with him.

Five of the nine homers he has allowed have come on the fastball this season, and four of those were called to be on the outside corner and ended up on the other side of the plate.

Here are the homers that have been hit against Cain's fastball this season:

David DeJesus (LHB) - Catcher sets up away, fastball thrown down and in

Yovani Gallardo (RHB) - Catcher sets up away, fastball thrown middle-in

Paul Goldschmidt (RHB) - catcher sets up away, fastball thrown up and in

Martin Prado (RHB) - Catcher sets up low and in, fastball thrown middle-in

Jason Kubel (LHB) - Catcher sets up away, fastball thrown down and in

The other four homers Cain has allowed this season were on off-speed pitches.

Starlin Castro (RHB) - Catcher looking for slider low and away, pitch is thrown above the belt and in

Jonathan Lucroy (RHB) - Catcher looking for slider low and away, pitch is thrown thigh-high in the middle of the plate.

Ryan Braun (RHB) - Cain hangs a curveball out over the plate

Eric Chavez (LHB) - Catcher sets up low and away, changeup is above the knees and away and poked over the left-field wall.

After serving up three homers and walking four in six innings Monday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the right-hander is 0-2 with a 6.49 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP through six starts.

Cain was drafted at a average pick of 33.9 in Yahoo! leagues, making him the sixth starting pitcher off the board, so this isn't what fantasy owners expected to get from him in April.

But Cain has a career HR/FB rate of 7.1 percent, which is well below league average, and he has never allowed more than 22 homers in a single season despite throwing an average of 213 innings per season over the last seven years.

His average fastball velocity is still holding steady at 90.7 mph, which is not far off from where it has been over the last three years.

Cain likely just has to work out a mechanical issue that is causing his command problems, and once he does we should see his usual production.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at

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