The New York Yankees’ Forgotten Third Ace: James Paxton

New York Yankees, James Paxton

When do we think about the New York Yankees‘ rotation what comes to mind first? We might think about the new shiny addition Gerrit Cole. Perhaps it was the young stud Luis Severino who flashes in your head. You could also be thinking of playoff hero Masahiro Tanaka, the longest-tenured Yankee in the rotation. These are all great choices, however, don’t forget about the third ace in that rotation, James Paxton.

Top Tier Lefty

James Paxton is one of the better lefties in all of baseball, with a career 3.50 ERA in 733 MLB innings. He had a pretty good year in his Yankee debut season, posting a 3.5 fWAR and 3.82 ERA in 29 starts. With a K/9 of 11.11, he racked up 186 punch-outs in 150.2 innings. He had been the Yankees ace down the stretch, but with Severino back and Cole added, he seems to have been forgotten. Paxton’s a phenomenal strikeout pitcher, and if he pitches 170-180 innings is going at the top of strikeout leaderboards and for sure get Cy Young votes.

Big Maple Loves the Big Apple

If there’s anything Paxton loved, it was the big games. In 2019 he flourished at Yankee Stadium, with a 3.35 ERA and a 7-3 record with a 1.167 WHIP. One of Paxton’s biggest critics, when the Yankees acquired him, was “How will he do in October?” And even though he had two rough starts, the highlight of his October was Game 5 against Houston at the Bronx. He dueled Justin Verlander and is the only Yankee to ever defeat Verlander in a postseason pitching duel. He finished October with a 3.50 ERA, and he’s clearly shown he can pitch on the big games.



Ace Talent

James Paxton was the Mariners ace in 2017 and 2018, and he was a pretty dominant ace. To view Paxton as anything less than an ace is pretty disrespectful to the lefty, and while he won’t be the Yankees #1 starter, he’s still someone with that talent. With a curveball that hitters can only muster a .178 average against and a fastball averaging 95.4 MPH, he’s clearly a very special arm. Whether it’s his talent or his big-game performances don’t forget about the power pitching lefty, because he’s going to come back better than ever, book it.

Projections

15-7
3.50 ERA
1.21 WHIP
160 Innings Pitched
200 Strikeouts
11.3 K/9
4.1 fWAR

Am I being too optimistic of the Big Maple? How do you think Paxton will do?