In the most recent Pirates Roundtable, I had this to say about Paul Maholm:
Sometimes he goes to the mound and breezes through a game without a problem. Those flashes of dominance always get me daydreaming about what kind of pitcher he could be. But he never seems able to develop the consistency he needs to be a top starter. He has improved that consistency this season, so maybe he is turning the corner as a pitcher.
After thinking about it a bit more, I would like to take back the sentence about Maholm’s lack of consistency. In reality, he has been very steady for the Bucs.
Obviously, Maholm has been pitching very well recently. You probably already know the numbers, but I will quickly go over them again. In his past ten starts, he has gone 5-1 with a 2.90 ERA and a WHIP of 1.02. In 71.1 innings, Maholm has struck out 42 and walked only 11. Opposing hitters have managed a .669 OPS, and he has gone at least six innings in 14 consecutive starts. As Ryan Doumit put it, “Paul Maholm is just a breath of fresh air every time he takes the mound.”
Apparently, it slipped my mind during the roundtable that Maholm did the same thing last year. In 18 starts between May 25 and August 28 of 2007, he posted an ERA of 3.69 and a WHIP of 1.28. He lasted less than six innings just twice during that span, and went seven or more innings 11 times. Unfortunately, he battled injuries in September. Maholm returned to make two starts, and allowed 16 earned runs and 21 hits in 4.2 innings. Those final two appearances launched his ERA from just below league average at 4.32 all the way up to 5.02.
Maholm is still not a dominant pitcher. But he has been the only pitcher in the Pirate rotation to show improvement each year in the league. Because of that, I am eager to watch as his career progresses.