Paul Maholm among pitching trade targets

Updated: July 21, 2012, 12:52 PM ET
By Buster Olney

Paul Maholm was drafted nine years ago and has pitched in more than 200 games in the big leagues, so the book on him is well-established. Left-hander with a below-average fastball who has to mix his pitches to win.

But before the trade deadline every year, teams will still send scouts to watch pitchers like Maholm because they're looking for a hot hand -- a hitter in the midst of an offensive burst; a pitcher who has made an adjustment that's fueling a hot streak or has started throwing a pitch that's working for him.

Like an NFL team looking for a kicker who is on a roll, MLB teams seek a quick fix. One great start -- or a short series of strong outings -- can make a difference to clubs this time of year.

Maholm has a career ERA well over 4.00, but he is pitching well right now. At 30 years old, he is making his mistakes down in the strike zone, an evaluator says, rather than up. For a soft thrower such as Maholm, that can make an enormous difference.

Maholm is making $4.75 million this year, has a $6.5 million option for next season and has thrown well for most of this season. Since his first two starts of the season, in which he allowed 12 earned runs in eight innings, he has an ERA of 3.32, with only eight homers surrendered in 97.2 innings. He has allowed only three earned runs in his last 30.1 innings, with four walks and 20 strikeouts.

He doesn't have the stuff of a Cole Hamels, the American League East pedigree of Matt Garza or the ceiling of a Zack Greinke, but at this time of year, teams are looking for help, and Maholm looks like he could help.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers remain in the mix for Ryan Dempster.