The New York Yankees currently have a couple of question marks in the rotation. One of them is J.A. Happ, who has struggled in his two appearances so far in the season, mostly with command. The other one is James Paxton, as the Big Maple has been showing diminished velocity since his first start of the season.
However, Paxton, who allowed eight runs (six earned) in his first two starts against the Washington Nationals and Boston Red Sox, was miles better in his last turn versus the Tampa Bay Rays.
He dominated the Rays offense for six innings, but Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone chose to leave him for the seventh and allowed a couple of home runs.
â€œIt’s a tough one,â€ Paxton said to MLB.com. â€œIt was going really well until the seventh inning rolled around. I made a few bad pitches and they made me pay, which is too bad. That last inning was unfortunate.â€
A welcome sight for the Yankees
He could have left with six scoreless frames but instead had to settle for 6.1 innings of three runs. However, and despite the fact that the Yankees ended up losing, the 11 strikeouts were a net positive, and his fastball velo, while not in the 95 mph range like last season, started to creep up.
In his first two starts, his fastball was around 91.8 mph. Against the Rays, it averaged 92.3 and touched 93.9. Things are starting to look better.
â€œSeeing their swings early, I could see I had some good ride on the fastball today,â€ Paxton said. â€œGetting those foul balls, getting those swings and misses definitely gave me the confidence to keep going back to it.â€
Right now, Paxton and the New York Yankees are scheduled for a rematch against the Sox. Will his fastball continue to creep towards the 95 mph mark?