Paul Maholm! Bronson Arroyo! Laugh all you want, but two more dependable #3 starters you won’t find. Arroyo doesn’t really have a fastball, he doesn’t really strike anybody out, and I’m not sure that I can think of a single reason that he has 126 wins in the majors, has been worth around 24 Wins Above Replacement, and is still able to hold down a rotation spot in a tiny ballpark at the age of 36. I’ve often said that Livan Hernandez was like a knuckleballer who just didn’t have a knuckleball; Arroyo is basically a left-hander who just happens to be right-handed.
Paul Maholm is in the middle of a career renaissance, despite the fact that his fastball is actually about half a mile slower than Arroyo’s. He’s five years younger, and has only won 69 games and 15 Wins Above Replacement, but they’ve been of roughly comparable value throughout their careers. However, since coming to Atlanta, Maholm decided to start striking people out. Lots of people. He’s averaging 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings in a Braves uniform (106 2/3 innings overall), after averaging 5.6 K/9 in the 1264 career innings prior. Could be a fluke — but it also might be that he’s on the best team that he’s ever played for, with the best defense he’s ever played for, and that’s made him a better pitcher. We’ll see how he does the rest of the year, but I think that some of the improvement is likely legit.
Also, there’s this: Arroyo was drafted by the Pirates in 1995. Maholm was drafted by the Pirates in 2003. They are the two best Pirates draftees between Jason Kendall and Andrew McCutchen.