New York Yankees: Looking into James Paxton’s early season struggles

New York Yankees, James Paxton

Despite having a great start to the season as a team, New York Yankees‘ left-handed pitcher James Paxton hasn’t found himself on the mound yet. In two starts throwing only four total innings, Paxton has allowed six earned runs on 12 hits. Paxton had an extremely successful season last year where he finished with a 15-6 record and was one of the most reliable starters in the rotation for the Yankees. With Luis Severino injured and Domingo German not returning this year, it’s concerning that Paxton hasn’t performed well yet.

Comparing to last year

I looked at Paxton’s delivery last year compared to last night’s outing and there are distinct differences.

Last season, Paxton was finishing downhill with loose arm action and was using his body excellently. Last night, it seemed as if Paxton was stiff while moving towards the plate. It looked like he was relying on his arm rather than his body. This could explain why Paxton’s velocity has been significantly down. He’s usually sitting 96 MPH and can run it up to 98 MPH, however, his last two outings he has been 90-92 MPH.

Offseason injury

Last offseason, Paxton had surgery completed on his back. He rehabbed successfully and has been at 100% for months now. However, watching his last two starts has me thinking otherwise. Analyzing his mechanics from this year to last year, it looks like Paxton may not be back to 100% yet. It’s possible that the reason why he doesn’t have that “whip” is that he’s still coming back from that surgery.

Hopefully, Paxton’s early struggles are simply a mechanical thing that can be fixed easily. It’s very possible that’s the case since sometimes pitchers can get away from their mechanics especially after a long layoff. I wouldn’t give up on Paxton though, as we saw a similar trend last season. Paxton was OK during the first half of the season and was dominant in the second half. He may just be figuring things out still.

New York Yankees: James Paxton roughed up for second time in as many starts

New York Yankees, James Paxton

On Sunday, James Paxton had the chance to wipe the memory of Yankee fans after his rough outing to open the season. Instead, he saw no improvement from his season debut and had another poor outing.

Paxton lasted just three innings, giving up seven hits and five runs to the Boston Red Sox. Three runs were earned, and he struck out four batters.

After retiring the first two batters of the game, Paxton allowed a double to J.D. Martinez and a home run to Xander Bogaerts. However, Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks seemed to lose the ball hit by Martinez, as the ball could have been caught and would have avoided the early mess.

After a scoreless second inning, the third inning got really messy. But, the defense was once again unable to help.

Hicks lost another ball in the sky, allowing Kevin Pillar to reach. Rafael Devers drove him in with a single, but then two more singles from the Red Sox and an error from Miguel Andujar allowed two more to score.

Even if the Yankees were playing good defense, it would have been just a matter of time until Paxton got rocked. His velocity was down again, even more so from his previous start.

His season opening loss against the Nationals saw him with an average fastball velocity of 92.4 mph, and his performance against the Red Sox on Sunday saw him with just a 91.5 mph average fastball.

Something is clearly wrong with Paxton, but skipper Aaron Boone believes it’s just mechanical. He said in an in-game interview that Paxton “feels good” and just needs to find his velocity.

Hopefully it’s something simple that can be worked out quickly. If it can’t be fixed soon, Paxton could get removed from the rotation and replaced with a young arm.

New York Yankees Previews: Yankees look tonight for sweep of the Boston Red Sox

New York Yankees, James Paxton

Last night the New York Yankees won their sixth of seven games played.  They have taken the first two games against their traditional rival Boston Red Sox, and tonight they will look to finish off the Red Sox by sweeping the three-game series.

The Yankees won two of the three games against the World Champion Washington nationals, the sweep the series with the Baltimore Orioles. Inf the first game with the Red Sox, the Yankee came out victorious with a 5-1 win, and last night a 5-2 win.

Tonight at 7:08 pm, the Yankees will again face the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. The weather again will be good with the game-time temperature at about 85 under partly cloudy skies, but with increased humidity.

The Red Sox will face the New York Yankees, James Paxton. Last year when Paxton faced the Red Sox for the first time, he pitched 8 shutout innings while striking out 12 Red Sox for the Yankee win. He lost his July outing but won both of this last two starts against the Sox. On August 19 and on September 26th, he shut out the Sox for the second time in the season. One of the main reasons the Yankees signed Paxton is that he was known as the Red Sox killer. Jackie Bradley Jr. has the best Red Sox record off of Paxton.

But this is 2020, not 2019. Paxton underwent back surgery — a microscopic lumbar discectomy with the removal of a peridiscal cyst — on Feb. 5, at which point he was given a three-to-four-month timeline to return. He came back from the surgery much sooner than the Yankees thought, and with the delay of the season, he says he is fully back. He pitched well in summer camp, but in his first start of the season, he was miserable going only one inning and giving up 3 runs in the Yankee loss to the Nationals. The only loss the Yankees have endured this season.

What James Paxton shows up on the mound tonight will have much to do with if the Yankees can sweep the Red Sox series.

At the bottom of the first inning, the New York Yankees will face Red Sox right-hander Austin Brice.  The Boston Red Sox pitching rotation is best described as a total mess.  Over the offseason, they lost co-ace David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Chris Sale is injured and their best pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez is out for the season with coronavirus induced heart inflammation.  With a lack of starting pitching, it causes them to dig around to find someone to start games.

Tonight in what will be a bullpen game for the Sox, Brice will start for the first time in 110 relief appearances in his career.  He pitched a scoreless inning in the first Yankee game.  So far this season, he has had 4 relief games with an ERA of 7.70. His longest outing was 1 2/3 innings, so don’t expect him to last long in the game tonight.

Prediction: Yankees 6-2

Tomorrow they will host the Philadelphia Phillies in a four-game replacement series, two games at the Stadium, and two games at Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia. Yankee ace Gerrit Cole is expected to start tomorrow night’s 7:05 pm game at Yankee Stadium.

 

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

New York Yankees, James Paxton

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.

New York Yankees Profiles: James Paxton, the Yankees per nine strikeout leader

New York Yankees, James Paxton

The New York Yankees came up short trying to acquire pitching help at the trade deadline last season, and that put pressure on James Paxton to shake off a rough stretch in midseason. He went through a period where the Yankees lost all six of his starts. In one game at Fenway Park, he gave up seven runs in four innings. The Yankees expected more from Paxton because the Yankees had won six of his first eight starts.  Paxton did get past his rough stretch when he finished with a team-leading eleven consecutive wins.

Paxton, born James Alston is thirty-one years old, he is Canadian that previously played for the Seattle Mariners. He played college ball for the Kentucky Wildcats. He was drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB draft by the Mariners and made his MLB debut for them in 2013. On May 8, 2018, Paxton pitched a no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays, becoming the first Canadian Major League pitcher to throw a no-hitter in Canada. Following the 2018 season, Paxton was traded to the New York
Yankees.

Previous to attending the University of Kentucky, he went to secondary school in Ladner British Columbia, where he played for the Canadian Premier League, followed by Team Canada at the Junior level. In his Junior year, he had 10 wins and an ERA of 1.51. After starting his Senior year injured, he went on to a 7-1 record. While at the University of Kentucky, he pitched a complete game shut out over Ole Miss. While in college, he was named the fifth-best pitcher in school history. He was selected in the draft by the Blue Jays, but he didn’t sign as he wanted to complete his senior year at Kentucky and ended up signing with Seattle.

While pitching for Seattle, In the Pacific Coast League, he was promoted to the majors in September of 2013. In his first game, he beat the Tampa Bay Rays and finished the short season 3-0 in four starts. In 2014 he had only thirteen starts due to the extended time of the DL. 2015 would end up the same with continued injuries. 2016 found Pax back in AAA, but an injury to Felix Hernandez got him called back up. In 2017 he won his first three games with an ERA of 0.00. In mid-April, he was named AL player of the week when he had two more wins that were scoreless. But then he was found back of the DL with a sore arm. In July, he was 6-0, but in August, he was back on the DL.

In 2018, before his start against the Minnesota Twins, Paxton gained national media attention when a bald eagle, which had been participating in a patriotic pre-game ceremony, flew around and landed on Paxton. Paxton, who reacted unusually calmly, later stated, “No, I wasn’t going to run. I figured I’m not going to outrun an eagle, so I might as well see what happens.” On May 2, 2018, against the Oakland Athletics, Paxton struck out a career-high 16 batters, and then on May 18th, he threw his no-hitter.

On November 19, 2018, James Paxton was traded to the New York Yankees. In April, he became the second only to David Cone to strike out 12 batters in two consecutive starts. After winning six of eight starts at the beginning of the season, the Yankees lost six of his starts. He gave up the long ball and failed to go deep into games. His best outing of the year was on July 16 against the Red Sox (8.1 IP, 0 R, 12 K).  After his slow patch, he went on to allow the Yankees to win all eleven of his final starts in the regular season and become the Yankees best pitcher who helped the Yankees win 103 games on the season.

During the postseason, the New York Yankees won his ALDS start against the Minnesota Twins.  In his start against the Astros in the ALCS, he pitched a gem. Paxton went 8 1/3 innings allowing only one run in the Yankee Game five win. At the end of the season, Paxton would become the Yankee franchise all-time leader with 11.11 strikeouts per nine innings, surpassing Luis Severino’s 2017 title.  Paxton is a popular Yankee and is nicknamed the “Big Maple” for his Canadian homeland.

Paxton is an ace type pitcher when healthy; he has had reoccurring problems with knee pain, which he says is now not a problem.  Paxton has pitched very well in both spring training and summer camp.  The Yankees will look for him to continue his winning ways in tonight’s second game of the season against the Washington Nationals and it’s co-ace, Stephen Strasburg.

New York Yankees Previews: Paxton vs. Strasburg in tonight’s Nationals game

Tonight at 7:15, the New York Yankees (1-0) will have their second game of the shortened 60 game season.  The game will be at Nationals Park home of the World Champion Washington Nationals (0-1).  The Yankees won the rain-shortened first game in baseball on Thursday night 4-1 against the World Champs.  The Yankees ace Gerrit Cole was the winning pitcher, and the Nats ace Max Scherzer took the loss.

The game tonight will be played under more favorable weather conditions, so we should see a full nine-inning game.  The game-time temperature will be in the mid-’80s with partly cloudy skies.

The matchup will see the New York Yankees James Paxton face the Nationals co-ace Stephen Strasburg.  What is interesting with the matchup is that neither pitcher has faced each other before.  Paxton was 15-6 with an ERA of 3.82.  Last season Paxton broke the all-time Yankee record for strikeouts per 9 innings with 11.11Ks per nine.  This surpassed the previous record-holder Luis Severino in 2017.  The 32-year-old Strasburg was 18-6 with a 3.32 ERA last season.

James Paxton, nicknamed the “Big Maple” is 31 years old and hails from Canada.  Previously with the Seattle Mariners, Paxton gained national media attention when a bald eagle, which had been participating in a patriotic pre-game ceremony, flew around and landed on Paxton in 2018. Also, in 2018 Paxton struck out a career-high 16 hitters. On November 19, 2018, Paxton was traded to the Yankees. In April, he became the second only to David Cone to strike out 12 batters in two consecutive starts.

Tonight the New York Yankees will look for Paxton to go five or six innings. Almost a year to the day in 2019 Paxton went eight innings of no-run ball with twelve strikeouts against the Boston Red Sox. Last season the Yankees won six of eight of his first starts. Paxton’s claim to fame last year was that the Yankees won all eleven of this starts as the season came to an end.  Last postseason the Yankees won his start against the Twins in the ALDS.  Paxton pitched only one game in the ALCS against the Astros, and it was a gem. Paxton went 8 1/3 innings allowing only one run in the Yankee win.

Stephen Strasburg has never pitched against the Yankees as a team.  Strasburg is starting his tenth year with the Nationals and has a marvelous career record of 112-58 and an ERA of 3.15.  Strasburg is coming off a historic postseason that saw him win all five of his starts.  He was named the 2019 postseason MVP.

In summer camp, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (92mph) and Curve (80mph), also mixing in a Change (88mph) and Sinker using a Two-seam Fastball grip (92mph). His fastball velocity has reduced from his 2012 high of 96.5 that lead the league since his Tommy John surgery.  He has a similar strikeout rate as Paxton.

Neither team has released their lineup for tonight, but it is assumed that both lineups will be similar to Thursday nights game.  The Yankees will look to get out early with a lead taking the pressure off Paxton while he settles in.  Sunday in a 1 pm start, the Yankees will complete the three games series and then move on to face the Philadelphia Phillies.  Yankees Opening Day at Yankee Stadium will be Wednesday against the same Phillies.

 

Do the Yankees already have James Paxton’s replacement on the roster?

The New York Yankees gave up prized prospect Justus Sheffield, plus other pieces to bring James Paxton to the Bronx for a couple of years, prior to the 2019 season. His first year in pinstripes was positive, despite the fact that he threw only 150.2 innings. He had a 3.82 ERA (3.86 FIP) and missed lots of bats, with an 11.11 K/9.

The 2020 shortened season will be his last with the New York Yankees, unless he can agree to terms to extend his stay. This year is his last of team control, as he is slated to test the free agent waters in the fall.

Should the New York Yankees bring him back? Of course, in a perfect world, in which money and roster spots are endless, it would be a great idea, as Paxton is a supremely talented lefty pitcher, and there aren’t many of those.

However, the Yankees do have a young, controllable and talented southpaw in the rotation that is virtually Paxton’s in-house replacement: Jordan Montgomery.

Again, it would be perfect if the Yankees brought Paxton back to join Montgomery in the rotation for several years to come. However, the team also has other pending free agents, most notably DJ LeMahieu and Masahiro Tanaka, to deal with.

The numbers’ game says that, most likely, at least one of those won’t be back. It happened to Didi Gregorius last offseason.

The Yankees have a gem in Monty

Fortunately, Montgomery has what it takes to succeed in the majors should Paxton leave. Monty had a fantastic rookie season in 2017, with a 3.88 ERA in 155.1 frames, and a 2.6 fWAR mark. Then, he blew out his elbow in 2018 and lost most of the last two years.

However, almost a year went by since his last appearance, and his arm looks fresher than ever. He even admitted that from an arm strength point, this is the best he has felt in a long time. And it shows.

On Sunday, he dominated the Mets in an exhibition game (5 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K). He is approaching the mid-90s, thanks to his talented arm and the work of Yankees’ pitching coach Matt Blake. His curve looks absolutely nasty, he is locating well, he is changing speeds. He is having fun in the mound.

Don’t be surprised if the New York Yankees get a better season from Montgomery this year. It would be sad to see Paxton go, as he is one of the American League’s top lefties, but the club has its internal replacement in Montgomery.

Are the New York Yankees making a mistake with James Paxton?

New York Yankees, James Paxton

Manager Aaron Boone has already named James Paxton the New York Yankees number two starting pitcher. Despite the issues he faces in the first inning, he has proven he can dominate in the MLB when healthy. Considering the health issues, the team has faced and Luis Severino’s season-ending injury this year, Paxton’s presence is welcomed.

Trading for him during the 2018 season has proven to be beneficial. In 2019, Paxton pitched in 29 games, a career-high. He finished the season 15-6 with a 3.82 ERA. Over 150.2 innings, he recorded 186 strikeouts, allowed 23 home runs, and 64 earned runs.

However, despite his positive performance, the Yankees have yet to open up negotiations regarding a new deal, according to the New York Daily News.

Paxton is currently on a one-year, $12.5 million deal. At 31 years old and coming off surgery to remove a cyst from his lower back, the Yankees may decide to let him walk in free agency. Given his significant struggles to open games, the contract he might be seeking on a multi-year deal could be worth upwards of 15 million per season.

The New York Yankees have to consider multiple factors

His injury history is a bit tumultuous, taking away from his value over a long-term deal. I believe the better move would be to extend Masahiro Tanaka on a reduced salary. Tanaka has been consistently healthy throughout his career but is set to make over $20 million per season in 2020. If they can bring him down to somewhere in the $15 million range, I would prefer to keep him over Paxton.

I would even be open to the Yankees considering Marcus Stroman, who currently plays for the New York Mets. Last season, Stroman earned an All-Star appearance, logging a 3.22 ERA with the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets. He allowed 18 home runs over 184.1 innings. While he doesn’t offer a lefty arm as Paxton does, he pitched a lot better in 2019 and could be a great option for a long-term deal.

At 30 years old, he is still in the middle of his prime and is deserving of consideration from the Yankees, in my opinion. Considering Stroman has struggled this spring training 2.0, this is a very interesting time for every player. Not everyone will respond positively, but it could give the Yankees a more advantageous position monetarily if he doesn’t play to his potential in 2020.

The New York Yankees could lose up to four starting pitchers in 2021

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ, James Paxton

The New York Yankees have their best chance at making a World Series appearance in years, considering the talent they have in the batting order and consistency in the pitching rotation.

A shortened season should limit injuries to a degree, as 2019 saw the Yankees set records for most games missed by starting players. However, once the 2020 season comes to an end, general manager Brian Cashman has a tall list of things he has to do.

Among several position players that will have expiring contracts, the Yankees could lose for starting pitchers due to free agency and retirement.

Here are the New York Yankees’ pitchers that could move on:

1.) James Paxton

The Yankees signed Paxton to a one-year, $12.5 million deal this past off-season. The former Seattle Mariners played in 29 games for the Yankees last season, pitching 150.2 innings. He finished with a 3.82 ERA, 186 strikeouts, and 23 home runs allowed.

With manager Aaron Boone already naming Paxton their number two starter this season, you can see the value he brings to the Bronx. Surprisingly, Paxton has never won any awards, whether it be an All-Star appearance or appearing in Cy Young voting.

However, that doesn’t take away from his stellar production when healthy. He has never pitched over a 3.90 ERA and has only recorded a winning percentage of less than .500 twice in seven years in the MLB.

The Yankees expect more, though, which is why he has been thrust into a more strenuous position. Adding a quality lefty pitcher to the rotation is always a positive. He will be a big question for the Yankees come the end of the season.

The Yankees’ starting pitching news we’ve so desperately needed

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole, James Paxton

Injuries here, injuries there, can someone get these out of our hair! That should be New York Yankees‘ strength and conditioning coach, Eric Cressey’s mantra every morning.

The Yankees have been dealing with individual injuries across-the-board, not just in the starting pitching rotation. Whether it be Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, or any other positional player, limiting these issues is essential heading into the regular season.

When players are getting injured before regular play, it is extremely concerning. Their durability might be compromised due to the lack of reps the past few months, and with a 60-game condensed schedule fit into 65 days, limiting fatigue will be a problem.

However, the New York Yankees are slowly getting back some of their star pitchers. Both James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka are expected to be ready with the Yankees returning to action in just one week. Paxton pitched in an intrasquad exhibition game Wednesday evening, giving up back to back home runs to Judge and Stanton. The unfortunate inning can be coughed up to lack of activity, as he has been slowly rehabilitating from having a cyst removed from his lower back several months ago.

Despite the deficient performance, manager Aaron Boone has already named Paxton their number two starter, behind Gerrit Cole.

Here’s a look at the New York Yankees’ starting pitching rotation for the 2020 season:

1.) Gerrit Cole

2.) James Paxton

3.) Masahiro Tanaka

4.) Jordan Montgomery

5.) J.A. Happ

Aside from the five players listed, the Yankees also have a bevy of relief options and starters. They could utilize Clarke Schmidt or Deivi García if need be, but relying more on their trusted players is a priority. With the roster being expanded from 26 to 30 players, the Yankees still have a few more days to iron out their active roster. I imagine it will be heavily composed of relief options, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Yankees utilize an opener throughout the season.

García dominated his opportunity to open an intrasquad game last week. They also have Chad Green available, similar to their 2019 plan. For pitchers like Paxton, who struggled in the first inning, it could be useful do utilize an option like Green or García.

However, the younger of the two is still experimental, and these recent reps against Yankee players gives him essential experience provided the lack of a minor-league season this year.

Nonetheless, the news that we’ve been waiting for is simply based on the progression of health. Of course, the Yankees don’t have Luis Severino after he underwent Tommy John surgery this off-season. The readiness of Paxton and Tanaka should serve the Yankees well, but getting as many reps as possible before Opening Day is essential.