Paul Maholm Needs to Play Stopper for Atlanta Braves
The Atlanta Braves (39-26) have been a much different team on the road (18-19) than at home (21-7) so far this 2013 MLB season. That trend has continued in San Diego against a mediocre San Diego Padres (31-34) team. A late rally on Monday fell just short and the offense was unable to push across enough runs on Tuesday in a pair of one-run losses.
The Braves will look to salvage one game in San Diego behind the left arm of Paul Maholm (7-4, 3.46) on Wednesday afternoon.
We’ve seen the Braves be a streaky team in 2013 and much of the attention shifts to the offense. However, the rotation has also been surprisingly streaky as I wrote about a few weeks ago.
Similar to the rest of the staff, Maholm has struggled following a loss. After six games that ended losses, Maholm has a 1-3 record and 6.75 ERA, while he’s posted an impressive 6-1 record and 1.14 ERA in seven games following a Braves’ win.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez hopes Maholm can buck that trend to play the role of stopper on Wednesday afternoon. However, he has not fared well against the Padres in his career. Despite posting a decent 4.02 ERA, he is just 1-5 in seven starts against them.
The Braves still hold a comfortable seven-game lead over the Washington Nationals in the National League East, but these types of series are important to maintain that lead. While no one is mistaking a June game against the Padres as a must win, taking advantage of below .500 clubs can prove to be the difference in keeping a division lead.
The Braves will be disappointed when they leave San Diego in failing to win the series. However, salvaging the last game would provide the club a small sense of satisfaction and momentum. That all starts with Maholm playing stopper on the mound.