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.
Comparing Paxton from last season to tonight’s outing.
Looks like he had more whip last year and was using his body better. Tonight, it looked like he was all arm and wasn’t finishing downhill as well.
— John Zarnowski (@johnzarnowski) August 3, 2020
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.
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.