Atlanta Braves fans should be excited over the strong first half of starting pitcher Paul Maholm.
Expected to anchor the back end of the pitching rotation, Maholm has looked like an ace through five starts. Back on March 11th, Maholm was involved in a pitching chess match with Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg–a game the Braves eventually won 7-2. Maholm went five innings and ended up with five strikeouts and just two hits with no runs allowed.
As of March 17th, Maholm has a 2.33 ERA with a WHIP of 1.09 in 19.1 innings pitched; nine innings less that teammate Tim Hudson who leads Major League Baseball in innings pitched this spring. Maholm has also been very successful limiting opposing batters to a .188 batting average.
If this trend continues through March for Maholm, the Atlanta pitching rotation will be that much more intimidating.
Career-wise, Maholm has spent the majority of his career pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates with not much success. He never had a winning season but did have a career-best 3.66 ERA in his final season with Pittsburgh. When you’re not playing for a contender, sometimes you struggle to find motivation to step up your game. While baseball players are professionals, they are also human.
In 2012, Maholm split time with the Chicago Cubs before being shipped to Atlanta. He had his first winning season to go with a 3.67 ERA and a career-best 1.22 WHIP. I fully expect a repeat–if not an improvement–for Maholm in 2013. Having a better offense to support him will allow Maholm to focus and pitch to his potential.
I’m not expecting front of the rotation stuff for Maholm, but I’m betting we see 12-13 wins through about 180 innings pitched. An ERA somewhere in the neighborhood of 3.80 with a 1.25 WHIP will be more than enough for Maholm to steady the back end of the Braves starting rotation.