New York Yankees Previews: Paxton faces Morton as Yanks try to even the series

New York Yankees, James Paxton

The New York Yankees have been in a bit of a downturn during the past week.  In their last six starts, they are 2-4. This weekend the Yankees have lost two games against the Tampa Bay Rays.  This afternoon at 1:10 pm, they will try to even up the series at two games apiece before moving on to Yankee Stadium and two games starting on Tuesday against the Atlanta Braves.

The game today will be at Tropicana Field, a domed stadium in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Many consider the aging stadium as one of the worst parks in all of baseball. It does have it’s pluses everyone knows about the stingray touch tank, but what many don’t know, is that it is a mini Cooperstown with historical baseball exhibits throughout the stadium.  The big plus is that the weather is never an issue in this air-conditioned dome. The 1:10 pm game will be broadcast on the YES Network and Fox Sun.

Today the Tampa Bay Ray will send one of their best pitchers out to face the Yankees.  Charlie Morton of Astros’ fame will face the Yankees James Paxton. Morton is a twelve-year veteran pitcher that has pitched with many teams.  Most notably with the Houston Astros during 2017 and 2018.  Last year for the Ray he went 16-5 with an ERA of 3.05.  In his last three years, he has gone 45-15.

This year he is 1-1 in three games started.  He has had a bit of trouble with the velocity of his four-seam fastball. It did improve in his last outing against the Boston Red Sox.  He will have to watch out for DJ LeMahieu (.389) and Brett Gardner (.333), both having faced him twelve or more times.

The New York Yankees will start James Paxton in his first two starts of the season has gone only 1 and 3 innings respectively, while giving up six earned runs.  Paxton’s main problem seems to be his fastball that is coming in about four miles per hour slower this year than last.  There is a big difference when a major leaguer faces a 95 mph fastball, and a lesser one at 91.  His ERA this year sits at 13.50.

The reason for Paxton’s reduced velocity is of concern to Paxton, although he and pitching coach Matt Blake cannot find the reason for it.  Paxton underwent back surgery earlier this year, but he feels he has completely recovered from that injury. Paxton is the Yankees number two starter and they need to get him right. The Yankees tonight will hope that Pax, the “Big Maple” can get his first win of the season.

If the Yankees put out their best “A” lineup today, it will not include Giancarlo Stanton that suffered a hamstring injury in game 2 of yesterday’s doubleheader, a definite disadvantage for the Yankees. The loss of Stanton is substantial as he has hit three home runs and had an OPS of 1.036.