I'm watching Baseball Tonight for the first time in a week, since I'm on vacation, so you get two posts today. The ESPN talking heads just discussed the changes Daniel Cabrera has made this year to make himself a much better pitcher.
Well, Cabrera's numbers have certainly changed. He was a mediocre power pitcher, and now he's a mediocre groundball/finesse pitcher. Either version is capable of posting a 4.75 ERA with average defense and luck.
However, that's not what's happened. Cabrera was relatively unlucky last year, allowing a higher than normal percentage of his baserunners to score. This year, his defense is converting 77% of balls in play to outs. 77% is a ridiculous outlier: Derek Lowe was at 77% in 2002, which allowed him to post a 2.58 ERA that year, a number that ballooned to 4.47 in 2003, then 5.42 in 2004.
The culprit here is a completely unsustainable 12.6% line drive rate. I don't think I can throw 70 MPH, but if I never allowed a line drive, I might be able to hold down a bullpen job.
Cabrera has 42 strikeouts and 30 walks through 11 starts. If he can't improve those rates from here on out, his ERA from here on out will be roughly 4.75, just like the old version.