See, that was what the Braves are paying him for. Hudson finished seventh in the league in ERA, third in innings, and fifth in wins; he didn’t figure in the Cy Young voting because of a late fade, but was in consideration much of the year. The big key was cutting down on home runs; after allowing 20 and 25 in his first two seasons with the Braves, he allowed only ten in 2007. He also cut down severely on his walks while maintaining most of a strikeout gain from the previous season. Also, he was an itty-bit hit-lucky, not too much. If he can keep his home run rate down, he should be in excellent shape.
I am not wild about the Braves’ infield defense, which was below-average at all three positions, but Hudson did okay with it. Hopefully, Johnson and Escobar will be improved in their second seasons… Hudson had the team’s only complete game, a shutout of the Natspos Sept. 16.
Hudson’s most-similar pitcher through age 31 is Mike Mussina. That’s fairly promising. His list also includes Bob Welch and Andy Pettitte, who pitched well for several more seasons after that, but also has Dennis Leonard, Ramon Martinez, and Jack McDowell, who were all finished at this age. Basically, there’s a 50/50 chance that this type of pitcher makes it to 35 as a contributor.