New York Yankees: What Will 2020 Look Like For James Paxton?

New York Yankees, James Paxton

James Paxton became a second-half hero for the New York Yankees, with his final 11 starts conducting a mere 2.51 ERA and rattled off 10 straight wins for New York, and while wins aren’t a stat I like at all, the 10 wins were because of his dominance on the mound so I do credit him for them. Overall on the year a high 3 ERA and FIP doesn’t look fantastic, but it isn’t bad by any stretch. The only reason it looks weird is that Paxton posted better peripherals in Seattle and while Paxton finally returned to Seattle form, the question still remains: Which James Paxton are we getting?

Big Maple Poised For a Big Year

While I do have doubts about Paxton’s health in year 2, I don’t doubt his ability to succeed in the Bronx. Many people may point at his second-half like a hot streak, but I definitely disagree. Paxton’s ability to limit baserunners and the fact that Paxton was able to finally consistently start games instead of on and off injuries play a huge factor in why he finally settled in. He actually pitched better in New York with a 3.35 ERA and 1.17 WHIP at home, showing that he was consistently pretty good at home.

He was bad on the road, but it got much better because, in 6 starts of his amazing 11 game stretch, he was on the road. The road numbers look bad, but that’s due to 8 of them being earlier in the season. There is no reason to believe that Paxton is incapable of being close to what he was in that second half if he’s able to stay somewhat healthy in 2020, and he shows he can be lights out whenever and wherever when healthy.

Will Paxton Show Up in October?

While he didn’t show up much in his first postseason start as he got knocked out early by Minnesota, he still shows a lot of promise for October in New York. James Paxton had also been knocked out early in Houston, which was a rough start to his career in October, but no start by a Yankee in the 2010s has impressed me more than Paxton in Game 5 at the Bronx.

Down 3-1 the New York Yankees looked dead at home, with three straight losses to Houston, two at home. They had no energy from the crowd which seemed dead and not like the Bronx Zoo we’d been used to in prior postseasons. The New York Yankees looked like they would end their season right there and then as they were down 1-0 after the top of the first. Then the bats woke up and they had two huge longballs and it was 4-1 Yankees, but now Paxton had to dominate to win this game. He wasn’t good, he was all-time great in that game, beating Verlander head-to-head and telling Aaron Boone “I’m Good, Let’s Go” and finishing off his 6 innings 1 run performance and helping the Yankees live to see a Game 6.

That game shows one thing: James Paxton is the type of guy you want on that mound. He isn’t a quitter, he is tough as nails and will lead and the Yankees will follow. He is going to rise to the occasion and be a stopper in October, and there’s no doubt about that.

What Will the Numbers Be For Paxton?

In my opinion, they won’t be anything that puts him as a Cy Young front runner, more like a pretty good all-star caliber of pitching. In 2020 I got him with these stats (adjusted for 100 games due to COVID-19)

18 GS
95 IP
115 SO
3.25 ERA
3.30 FIP
3.35 xFIP
1.15 WHIP
2.5 fWAR

This season will be a good one for Paxton, and will also get him a pretty penny from Cashman in the offseason.