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Pittsburgh vs. Chicago Cubs, 28 September 2005

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Paul Maholm (2-1, 2.08) vs. Mark Prior (11-6, 3.73), 2:20 P.M. Prior is as nasty as ever; his 3.73 ERA is a notch higher than his 3.25 career ERA, but he's still striking out well over a batter an inning. The difference is that, for some reason, he's giving up far more homers than he used to.

Anyone else wonder if Maholm is a bit out of his league? In five starts, he's struck out 22 batters while walking 16. That's not a terrible problem for a rookie in his first five starts, but it's way out of sync with his ERA. Maholm rocketed through the minors this season and it's not even a sure thing he belongs in the majors right now. Let's hope he does belong here, because that artificially low ERA is going to keep him in the majors for quite a long time next year even if his performance indicates that he should be at AAA.