Wins haven’t come any easier for Paul Maholm since he joined Atlanta. Similar to his Cubs tenure, the lefty’s been short on run support with the Braves plating just 2.6 runs behind him.
But that hasn’t stopped Maholm (2-3) from achieving a quality outing in four of his five starts, including a superb 2.45 ERA and a complete game shutout against the Mets on August 10.
Maholm has, however, been plagued by the long-ball, which has accounted for all 10 earned-runs against him. He’s served up six home runs with Atlanta: a stark contrast to the three home runs he issued over his final 12 starts with Chicago.
A CAREER YEAR FOR PREACHER PAUL
Maholm’s 11-wins this season are already a career-high (10), and it’s possible he could end the season with anywhere from 13-15 victories despite the lack of run support–an impressive improvement for a guy who entered the season with a career record 20-games below .500 (53-73).
Numbers aside, the best change for Maholm has been his place in the standings. For the first time in his career he’s in the thick of the postseason race with the Braves (74-56) who lead the NL wild card race and trail the division leading Nats by only 4.0 games.
So it seems Maholm will get his first taste of postseason baseball this October joining Tim Hudson and Tommy Hanson as the top three starters in Atlanta’s rotation.
Late comer, Ben Sheets (4-4, 3.54) could challenge Maholm for the coveted third spot in the rotation. But he’s since fallen back to earth after beginning his comeback (4-1) by losing his last three games.
As disappointing as it was to see Maholm depart Chicago via trade, the returns were strong and much needed for the Cubs rebuilding efforts. Not to mention, I couldn’t be more pleased for a guy whose professionalism alone has always been deserving of a chance to play for a ring.
This is a Guest Post by John Guminski. He’s a Junior at the University of Missouri majoring in Journalism.
Theo and Jed got their man. The dynamic duo locked Starlin Castro up long-term with a reported 7-year, $60M deal representing the Cubs’ first major financial commitment to its rebuilding efforts.
Castro’s been a prized possession since joining the club in May of 2010. He’s made two All Star appearances, led the National League in hits last season (207) and is a veteran player at just 22-years-old.
The team-friendly deal buys out Castro’s remaining four arbitration years, and his three free-agents seasons. There’s also an option year that could keep Starlin in Cubbie blue into his 30s.
The deal averages out to $8.57M per season, and when included with the Cubs’ 2013 payroll, projects out to a very flexible team salary of $44.4M dollars.
Key guys remain unsigned for next season such as Jeff Samardziija, Matt Garza, and Darwin Barney. But it’s a far cry from the 2010 payroll of more than $144M that forced Theo to dump higher-priced talent in order to return the club from the stratosphere in terms of player salary, at least for the time being.
The long-term commitment to Castro shows how much the Cubs believe Starlin is worth building around. It seems obvious when looking at the overall quality of players on the current roster, but it is encouraging to see a dollar amount reinforce the belief Starlin will be a cornerstone piece for the foreseeable future.
If, of course, that opinion sours the Cubs will be well within their right to trade Castro. The deal is void of any partial or full no-trade clauses.
That wouldn’t appear to be part of the plan, but there’s no ignoring plenty of Starlin’s game needs further developing, beginning with nurturing the young shortstop’s maturity both on and off the field.
Otherwise, he’s hit the ball out of the park more this year despite his doubles being halved (36,18) while his OPS (.720) and OPS+ (97) have both sank to career lows. His overall fielding has improved with only 21 errors on the way to his personal best .966 fielding percentage.
Team Theo obviously believes Castro will keep trending upwards as he nears his peak years, which is all part of the long-term rebuilding plans on the North Side.
It’s a fresh approach for a team long overdue on developing its young talent from within. Starlin, we hope, is just the first of many building blocks yet to come.