Last season, Feldman benefited from a .276 BABIP. In 2010, balls put in play against him are falling for hits at an absurd clip — his BABIP is .352, trailing only Zach Duke and Randy Wells among qualified big league starters. Also, Feldman’s strand rate has slipped. After leaving 72.8% of base runners high and dry in ’09, his LOB rate is down to 64% this year (70-72% MLB average). He’s not pitching worse with men on base:
Feldman with runners on base
2009: 4.48 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 4.66 xFIP, .252 BABIP
2010: 5.89 K/9, 3.25 BB/9, 4.50 xFIP, .338 BABIP
Truth be told, Feldman is neither the rotation stalwart that his shiny 17-win total from 2009 suggests, nor the bust that his 2010 ERA implies. Both seasons, he has been a passable starter — Feldman’s xFIP was 4.49 last season, and is 4.58 in 2010. Despite the wild fluctuations in his surface stats, Feldman’s the same pitcher he was last year.
Same thing with Randy Wells, by the way. Last season, Wells finished with a 3.05 ERA. That was a mirage. Not because of BABiP; Wells' was .294, just moderately lucky. Rather, his 76-percent strand rate was unsustainable, and this year it's been just 66 percent. Toss in Wells' incredibly unlucky .361 BABiP and you've got the recipe for a decidedly non-tasty 5.21 ERA.
Let's give some (rare) credit to the Cubs' decision-makers, because (to this point, anyway) they haven't panicked. I don't know if they know that Wells isn't fundamentally pitching any worse than last year, but he's still in the rotation and eventually this thing's going to turn around for him.
Feldman, too. If he keeps striking out twice as many hitters as he walks, his ERA is going to drop. I don't know if he'll ever win 17 games in a season again. I do think he'll be an asset as the Rangers continue their drive for a spot in the postseason tournament.