New York Yankees: James Paxton lacks velocity in disappointing season debut

Nathan Solomon
New York Yankees, James Paxton
Oct 18, 2019; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher James Paxton (65) pitches against the Houston Astros during the first inning of game five of the 2019 ALCS playoff baseball series at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, James Paxton made his first start of the season for the New York Yankees, and it was less than stellar. He was knocked out of the ballgame before he was able to record any outs in the second inning.

The second-year Yankee worked around a Starlin Castro triple in the first inning to keep the Nationals scoreless early, but imploded in the second inning. He allowed four straight hits and walk for two runs to score, and left the bases loaded for Michael King in relief.

Paxton only lasted 41 pitches, gave up three earned runs, five hits, one walk, and struck out just one.

What went wrong:

Paxton’s velocity was nowhere near where it should be Saturday night. He underwent offseason back surgery and has reportedly lacked velocity since then, but Saturday was really the first time we actually saw and noticed it.

His fastballs averaged a speed of 91.7 mph on Saturday, where his fastballs averaged 95.7 mph last season. Four mph might not seem like much, but it makes an enormous difference.

In addition to his velocity drop-off, his mechanics seemed a bit off. His arm angle and release point appeared to be different and his pitches seemed flatter.

I think that this is all a result of the surgery that he had. He missed most of the original spring training and may just be behind the other Yankee pitchers. But, this is a serious issue that needs to be resolved soon. The team can’t have Paxton out on the mound with known problems, or he will keep getting hit hard. It’s certainly early in the season, but the Yankees can’t afford to have him struggling.