For starters, Cubs have held their own
May, 9, 2012
By Doug Padilla | ESPNChicago.com
David Banks/Getty ImagesSince April 21, Paul Maholm has a 1.07 ERA and held the opponent to a .167 batting average.CHICAGO -- Make it four consecutive strong starts and counting for Cubs left-hander Paul Maholm, who has joined the team's collection of solid rotation guys.
Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza and Jeff Samardzija have also been impressive in the early going, with the starters posting a 2.52 ERA over the last 16 games.
After allowing just one run in each of his last three starts, Maholm topped that by giving up nothing over seven innings in the Cubs' 1-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday.
"Whenever I take the ball I'm going to expect to go deep into the game and let the defense pick me up and win games," Maholm said. "Whether you're the No. 1 or the No. 5, the day you pitch is your day. You're the No. 1 guy and you have to get the job done. I think the last four games I've pitched well."
Things looked troubling early when Maholm gave up six runs in each of his first two starts. But his Cubs debut came on a blustery night at Wrigley Field, not the best of conditions for a "feel" pitcher.
It hasn't hurt that he is finally getting to know his new catchers as well. Geovany Soto has caught five of Maholm's six starts, with Steve Clevenger catching the other.
Since April 21, Maholm has a 1.07 ERA and held the opponent to a .167 batting average.
"I'm going to have another rough outing at some point; it's part of baseball," Maholm said. "But I'm going to ride this as long as I possibly can and hopefully for a good while. I'll keep getting after it and expect to win games."
Only Chris Volstad has yet to get on track with the tall right-hander getting another chance to prove himself Saturday at Milwaukee. Otherwise, the Cubs couldn't have been more pleased with their starting pitching over the first six weeks.
"Going into the season we knew that it'd be one of our strong suits and up to this point it's been probably as good as anybody's in baseball for the most part," Sveum said. "We've had 30 games, whatever we've played, we've had a lot of quality starts and guys going six, seven, seven-plus consistently. Even some of the tough outings we had, the pitchers ended up settling down and getting six innings out of it too. Starting pitching has been great."