Updated: Nov 25, 2020
The New York Yankees have had a great start to the 2020 MLB season. At 7-1, they currently hold the best record in the entire league. Aaron Judge has been near unstoppable as of late, with six home runs in his last five games, including two last night to help the Yankees to a 9-7 victory over the Boston Red Sox, completing a sweep of their hated rivals. However, not everything has been going well for the Yankees. Sure, they’ve got great bats in their lineup and good pitchers in the bullpen, but some of their players have been a little slow out of the gate. That includes their starting pitcher last night, James Paxton.
Now, I’m going to start off by saying that when Paxton was acquired from the Seattle Mariners prior to the 2019 MLB season, I was very happy with the trade. Paxton had been coming off a great 2018 season with the Mariners, during which he made 28 starts while posting an 11-6 record, a 3.76 ERA, and a career-high 208 strikeouts. He also struck out a career-high 16 batters on May 2, and in his very next start, he pitched a no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays in his native Canada on May 8. Paxton started off his Yankees tenure a bit slowly, going 1-2 with an ERA of 6.00 in his first three starts, two of them being against the eventual-last place Orioles. However, in the last couple months of the season, he managed to get things together, winning nine straight decisions in August and September, including a couple double-digit strikeout games. In addition, Paxton also did well in the playoffs, tossing a dominant nine-strikeout performance while allowing one run in six innings against Houston in Game 5 of the ALCS, keeping their season alive and moving the series to a sixth game. Coming off a solid first season with the Yankees, Paxton ran into injury troubles during spring training, undergoing spinal surgery which involved the removal of a periodical cyst. His expected return would have been in 3-4 months, but due the COVID-19 pandemic, he was able to return in time for the start of the shortened season. In his first start of the season, however, things did not go well for Paxton, as he wasn’t able to get past the second inning. He allowed five hits and three runs while throwing 41 pitches, and took the loss in a 9-2 defeat against the defending-champion Nationals. In addition, many viewers noticed that Paxton’s velocity was down compared to the prior season. In 2019, Paxton’s average fastball velocity was at 95.4 mph, while topping out at 100 mph. In the Nationals game, Paxton’s fastball averaged 92.4 mph, while topping out at around 94 mph. Paxton’s start last night didn’t start off great either, as he gave up a two-run home run in the first inning to Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts. His night would eventually end after three innings, where he was tagged for five runs (three earned) on seven hits. His ERA after the game currently stands at 13.50. To make things more concerning, Paxton’s velocity was lower than the previous game. His first pitch of the game was a 91 mph fastball, and he averaged 91.4 mph on that fastball throughout the night. Indeed, you have to wonder if Paxton is currently 100%. Maybe it’s another case of him having a slower start to the season, maybe he’s still recovering from surgery, or maybe it’s just something completely different. Either way, it’s definitely concerning. As someone who is personally a fan, here’s hoping he’s able to get things together and pitch to the ability that we all know he has.
Article by Sean Cunningham