Paul Maholm of the Atlanta Braves is off to a tremendous start this season. The 30-year-old has posted a 3-1 record with a 1.03 ERA. In his first three starts, Maholm didn’t give up a single run, owning the best ERA in baseball.
He was near perfect, but something had to give, and unfortunately for Maholm, it came at the hands of his former team, the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Though he only gave up a season-low four hits over six innings pitched, Pittsburg’s Andrew McCutchen became the kryptonite to Maholm’s Superman-like pitching . The outfielder finished the game with two doubles and an RBI, extending his doubles streak against Maholm to three games.
The Atlanta offense was never really able to get things going, as they were held to just four hits and a run. In return, Maholm was tagged with the loss, but earned himself a quality start.
It was not the shutout performance that we have been used to seeing, but it was still a good outing for Maholm by all accounts. After an inconsistent career to date (playing with his third MLB team), it seems that Maholm is finally in touch with his true potential.
What has really helped him to this early season success has been his mastery of a wide assortment of pitches that he has been able to use efficiently. His premier pitch, the sinker, has led him to one of the best groundball/flyball ratio in the majors. Followed by a variety of fastballs, which includes an un-hittable cutter, it’s no surprise to why Maholm is statistically one of the best pitchers in the NL right now.
If he wants to continue his hot start though, Maholm may need to forget about his last outing against Pittsburgh and focus on the upcoming task at hand. With his next start scheduled to be against the heavy artillery of the Detroit Tigers (Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder), he’ll have to be prepared to bring his best stuff.
Historically, Maholm has been known to start out strong, then slowly decline as the long season takes a toll on him mentally and physically. To stay relevant, he will have to maintain this current level of success for the remainder of the year. Now that he has a much improved Atlanta offense to back him up, there is no excuse as to why Maholm can’t have a career season.