Thursday, November 01, 2007

2007 Review: Paul Maholm

Man, I don't know what to make of this guy most of the time. Most of the time I'm convinced he's garbage, but every once in a while he puts together an extended streak of competence that makes me feel like he could be a pretty good starter this year. You'll notice that I didn't put his yearly stats up. That's because there's a couple things I want to focus on rather than the broader picture. From a subjective perspective, which is where everything starts, I felt like Maholm was a lot better in 2007 than he was in '06. So I looked at the splits and mostly everything was the same, except for two stats that are directly related. Maholm threw almost the same number of innings this year as he did last year (177 and 2/3 this year compared to 176 last year). You can see on his BBRef page that strikeouts, homers, hits, and even runs are pretty comparable from year to year. Walks, and by extension, WHIP, are not.

He cut his walks down from 81 to 49 in 2007, which dropped his WHIP from 1.61 to 1.42. That was what allowed him his three month stretch from May 25th to August 28th in which he had a 3.69 ERA, a 1.28 WHIP, and nearly a 2:1 K/BB ratio despite only a 5.39 K/9 rate.

Look: Maholm's never going to be a stud. He doesn't have great stuff and because of that, I don't know if his K rate will ever raise much above where it is now. It was a bit higher in the minors (7.24 per 9 across all levels), but he only threw 211 and 1/3 innings total in his entire minor league career. Still, it's arguable that he's shown more competence than Zach Duke has in the past two seasons. His solid three month stretch encompassed 18 of his 29 starts this year and there's reason to believe he could've continued it on through the end of the year if back troubles hadn't sidelined him at the end of August. If he can stay healthy (those back problems can be a bit hard to figure out), then I think we've got ourselves our new Josh Fogg. He'll be able to eat innings, his being left-handed will be helpful at PNC Park, and he won't be appreciably worse than average. That's not an incredibly bright outlook, but I'm not willing to give him much more of a ringing endorsement unless his strikeouts jump in 2008 the way his walks dipped in 2007.