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Dammit! That was almost perfect alliteration.
A few weeks have passed and the baseball season is in full swing. To those owners who need pitching help, I would like to suggest an unlikely source: Pittsburgh’s Paul Maholm. Granted, he has not been exactly what you would call “flashy” over the past few seasons. In his defense, he has more going for him than going against him in 2009.
Maholm’s track record is not squeaky clean and you may be hesitant to dive right in and add him to your rotation. I mean, I certainly can’t blame you. I too was apprehensive about putting him on my team. In fact, here are his numbers from his first two full seasons:
2006: 8-10, 176.0 IP, 117 K, 4.76 ERA, 1.61 WHIP
2007: 10-15, 177.2 IP, 105 K, 5.02 ERA, 1.42 WHIP
Wow, those are absolutely terrible numbers. Clearly, Maholm was avoided like the plague going into the 2008 season. However, that was the year that Maholm took a huge step forward. Naturally, nobody knows about it.
2008: 9-9, 206.1 IP, 139 K, 3.71 ERA, 1.28 WHIP
The 2008 season was very good to Maholm. With the exception of the month of May (5.92 ERA), Maholm’s ERA was under 4.00 during every month of the season. He reached career highs in every category and just flat out improved as a player. Yes, the wins were anemic, but you cant blame a good pitching season for that. The only excuse for the low number of wins is the simple fact that he was on the Pirates who were 67-95 in 2008.
Now in 2009, the season has already looked fantastic for Maholm. It all started in spring training where he dominated opposing offenses. He was 2-0 with a 1.52 ERA in 23.2 IP. The general rule of thumb is that spring training numbers don’t mean jack. Yet, when your numbers are this good, you have to take notice.
In the few short weeks of the 2009 regular season, Maholm has made four starts and is already 3-0 (1/3 of the way to his win total from ’08). He has an ERA of 2.02 in 26.2 IP and has a 1.09 WHIP. Granted, the K total is not eye-popping (10 K), but the rest of the numbers point to a diamond-in-the-rough-starter.
If you look at the numbers, you see that Maholm has improved over the last three seasons and now he will be turning the magic age of 27 this season. The man is in his prime and is getting better every year. Plus, the Pirates as a team are looking young and vibrant. They are currently sitting in 2nd place in the NL Central with a 9-6 record and if they can reach .500, then their starters (including Maholm) could definitely receive a boost in their overall stats.
If Ks and K/9 and all that jazz are the number one priority for you when selecting a pitcher, then you won’t like Maholm. However, if you want everything else done right, then take a chance. I will gladly sacrifice my strikeout rate for numerous quality starts. As my motto goes: Quality Starts Baby!