The Braves pushed hard to pick up Ryan Dempster in July, but the now-Texas Ranger's decision to veto a trade to Atlanta has actually worked out splendidly. Atlanta homed in on another available Cubs starter, Paul Maholm, and the lefty has posted a 117 ERA+ in 44 innings pitched (Dempster has a 104 ERA+ with Texas). Maholm's breaking stuff is a big reason for his success: More chases and less contact against his curveball and slider has led to an uptick in strikeouts.
With Chicago, Maholm threw more of his curves and sliders in the strike zone (49%) than the average starting pitcher (46%):
Maholm's curveball and slider location with the Cubs
But as a Brave, he's tossing far fewer of his breaking pitches in the zone (just 36%):
Maholm's curveball and slider location with the Braves
Happily for Maholm, hitters have expanded their zones and gone after those off-the-plate breaking pitches. Maholm's curveballs and slider chase rate has jumped from 34% with the Cubs to 40% in Atlanta (32% average for starters):
Maholm's curveball and slider swing rate by pitch location with the Cubs
Maholm's curveball and slider swing rate by pitch location with the Braves
They're coming up empty on many of those outside swings, too. Maholm's miss rate with his breaking stuff was 24% in Chicago, far below the 30% average for starters. In Atlanta, hiss miss rate is 39%:
Maholm's curveball and slider contact rate by pitch location with the Cubs
Maholm's curveball and slider contact rate by pitch location with the Braves
By using his curve and slider as chase pitches, Maholm has struck out 7.8 batters per nine innings pitched with his new club. He whiffed 6.1 per nine with Chicago, and his career K rate is just 5.7 per nine. We might have to revisit that whole "finesse lefty" tag if he keeps this up.