Doctor Maddux and Mister Hyde
A few weeks back, I wrote a fun little article about our four aces, Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Carlos Zambrano, and Greg Maddux. I wrote about how anything is possible with pitching that good. The Cubs then proved me right by losing 8 straight. Well, no more bold acclamations for our pitching staff. Instead, I'm going to take a closer look at Greg Maddux - our veteran of the big brain and tendency to give up the long-ball.
We all know that Greg Maddux is a first ballot hall of famer. He's a perennial 15-game winner with four-straight Cy Youngs, a room full of Gold Gloves, and a whopping 313 career victories. Last year, he was tied for the lead in personal victories on the Cubs with 16. This year, he's on pace to win 14. But Maddux has been anything but consistent this year. He'll win two, then he'll get rocked. He'll get rocked, then he'll two-hit the opposition. It's a clear sign that, while Greg still has the biggest brain in baseball, hitters are catching up with his body and he may soon become ineffective on the mound. Probably not this year, but next year might be ugly.
There are a variety of ways to look at his numbers. First, let's look at his ERA in games he's won and lost personally.
In 8 victories this year, Maddux has thrown 53.1 innings, and has allowed 14 earned runs in that time-frame. He's given up 9 walks, 6 homers, and struck out 36 batters. His ERA in those games is 2.36.
In 6 defeats, Maddux has thrown 36.1 innings and allowed 31 earned runs. He's given up 5 walks, 6 homers, and struck out 22 batters. His ERA in those games is 7.68. Ouch.
But that's not the entire story. Maddux has also thrown 5 no-decisions. In those 5 games, Greg has thrown 30 innings while allowing 15 earned runs. He's given up 6 walks, 4 homers, and struck out 14 batters. His ERA in those games is 4.50.
So. There are games where Maddux has outright dominated: the Cy Young of old. Then there are games where he more closely resembles Steve Traschel or Mark Clark. And there are a handful of games where he looks like a cross between the two.
I don't think it was a mistake to sign Greg to an essential 3-year-deal. He brings a lot with him to the team. It's only fitting that he retires a Cub, and I absolutely look forward to his return to Chicago next year, where I suspect he might go 12-10 with a 5.00 ERA or worse.
However, he is unreliable. He's probably the least trustworthy starter we have, no offense to Kerry Wood or Jerome Williams. If the Cubs make the playoffs, he has to be no better than the 4th starter. But the point is, he'd still start.
Today, Maddux takes the hill with hopes of sweeping the Pirates. He's no guarantee to win. But he's still Greg Maddux. I'm proud to say that I've now seen him pitch twice, and I also saw what might be the last homerun he'll ever hit in the major leagues. With that in mind, at 4:05 eastern I'll put down my copy of the new Harry Potter book and turn on MLB.TV. If I'm lucky, I'll get to watch Doctor Maddux put on a show. But I'd even settle for an appearance of Mister Hyde.