James Paxton Hits the DL

James Paxton 300x150 James Paxton Hits the DLSeattle Mariners hurler James Paxton was sent to the Disabled List with a strained lat this week. Paxton becomes yet another Mariners starting pitcher to be placed on the DL, as he joins Hisashi IwakumaTaijuan Walker, Stephen Pryor, and Brandon Maurer. It’s a shame, as the left-hander had two excellent outings, both of which resulted in wins for the M’s.

Dating back to his debut last year, here are Paxton’s major league numbers through his first six career starts. They paint a picture of a very good starting pitcher.

ERA-FIP-xFIP-K%BB%GB%FBv
43877224.86.658.194.7

All those are very impressive, and in his first two starts in 2014, Paxton struck out 30 percent of hitters while walking just 4.7 percent. Since coming back from his knee injury, his control has been much better, and with that fastball and his curveball, he’ll get strikeouts aplenty.

Speaking of his fastball, Paxton’s 94.7 average fastball is the 10th highest among starters who have thrown at least 30 innings since 2013. Furthermore, it’s the top velocity for a left-handed pitcher. With the exception of David Price from 2010-12 there hasn’t been a left-handed pitcher that has managed that velocity. In fact, besides Price, there have been only four seasons in the Pitch f/x era where a left-handed starting pitcher has averaged at least 94 miles per hour.

Thus far in 2014 Jake McGee is the only left-handed pitcher to have thrown more fastballs traveling at least 95 miles per hour than Paxton. Six starts is hardly a big enough sample to rely on, but thus far, Paxton has shown all the trappings of a top of the rotation major league starter.

Left-handed pitchers that throw hard and throw strikes are good, and often very good. Throw in a curveball that has a 24.7 percent swinging strike rate in an admittedly small sample, and it’s hard to understand what those scouting reports that used the word reliever were trying to tell us. He’s not the Erik Bedard comp people have been trying to make. Changes to his delivery, release point, and a healthy knee have made a big difference.

With Felix Hernandez, and a healthy Iwakuma, Paxton, and Walker, it’s not hard to imagine the Mariners having a very good rotation. Maurer, Pryor, or Erasmo Ramirez could hopefully be a serviceable end of the rotation.

Roenis Elias and Chris Young will see starts with Paxton down, and Blake Beavan might be pushed into the rotation. It sure would be nice to have Chris Capuano right about now. Hopefully, Paxton will be able to come back soon. This Mariners teams appears to have more offensive capability than past squads. If they can help the team stay afloat until the rotation returns to full strength, there’s reason to be cautiously optimistic. 

Written by Chris Moran

Moran Chris3 James Paxton Hits the DL

Chris Moran is a second-year law student and assistant baseball coach at Washington University in St .Louis. He graduated from Wheaton College where he wore the tools of ignorance for the baseball team. Follow him on Twitter @hangingslurves

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12 comments on “James Paxton Hits the DL

  1. Brian says:

    Seems to me like our #2,3 and 4 starters are all down. Hard to believe that isn’t above average in the bad luck department. Maurer or Hultzen would probably be in, but they were injured too.

    To me i can’t see how “Seattle does not have more than its fair share of pitcher injuries.” That sentence means we are 15th or better in the injury department to our pitchers. With 60% of our starting rotation out i don’t buy it.

    I do see your point about most of the injuries not being too bad, but we can’t be in the bottom half of the bad luck department there right now. 4 of 4 for the “big 4″ all being currently not ready due to injuries plus our #2 guy in Iwakuma.

  2. mgvernon says:

    Maurer probably has more upside than Beavan, the 9 K’s in 3 1/3 were impressive. They are putting him back in the rotation in Tacoma after that outing as he’s recovering from a back problem encountered in spring training. When he gets built up innings-wise he’ll be more depth available in Tacoma. In about six weeks the M’s are going to have some enviable rotation depth. Having Franklin hitting well down south could be a big help too in case some cooling bats turn frigid.

  3. Ripperlv says:

    Speaking of Maurer, how about 9 K’s in 3 and a 1/3 !

  4. rjfrik says:

    Paxton is a stud. Anyone that watches his new delivery can see all he needed was an adjustment. I love the kids makeup as well. Give up a pair of HRs, no worries, settle right in and retire then next dozen guys.

    Paxton will be a fixture in the M’s rotation for a long time I believe and I like the Andy Pettitte comps. I think Paxton can have a long track record as a top of the rotation guy.

    Felix
    Iwakuma
    Paxton
    Walker

    That is a hell of a rotation. Hopefully the young guys keep it up.

  5. mgvernon says:

    I believe Maurer is being brought back slowly from a medical/injury problem in spring training, could be wrong about that.
    Compared to other teams, including the Rangers and A’s our pitchers problems are much more of a short duration situation compared to those whose guys are getting Tommy John surgery or recovering from it. There is an additional benefit in that young arms like Paxton and Walker should benefit from pitching less innings at the beginning of the season so they are still available for late season innings.

  6. Jason A. Churchill says:

    Jerry,

    Maurer is moving back to the rotation in Tacoma. He was being used in long relief as he was coming off a minor injury in spring training.

    Yellow Trident,

    I know Keith’s take on Paxton and it wasn’t about Paxton having to be a reliever. It was about Paxton having to a be a reliever if he couldn’t fix the delivery. Others, who shall remain nameless on this site, adopted a lazy approach. “Oh, Person X said he’s probably a reliever, so that’s what I think, too, but I’ll pass that on as my own opinion.”

  7. Ripperlv says:

    That’s the best answer I’ve heard yet, thanks.

  8. Jerry says:

    Nice that this team is interesting again. Obviously it’s still early, and a lot can change. But the ms have talent, and it’s starting to turn into performance. That’s awesome.

    And they could get better. Can’t wait till the rotation gets back this injured guys.

    Jason, one pitcher question: what’s up with Brandon Maurer? Saw that he is in the bullpen in Tacoma. Is that a permanent thing? I’d hoped that he’d bounce back from a rough (and arguably premature) into to the big leagues last year and challenge for a spot in the rotation. Any inside info?

  9. Yellow Trident says:

    I heard the same reliever talk. Pretty sure it was Keith Law as a guest on 710 ESPN.

  10. Jason A. Churchill says:

    Paul,

    Paxton shortened his arm path, helping him compact his delivery. Fewer moving parts, easier to repeat. And whoever told you Paxton “looked like a future MLB reliever…” stop following them, stop trusting them, stop paying attention to them. That was, and remains, lazy, non-scouting based solely on Paxton’s control problems in the minors and not on the things that matter, such as — can he fix his delivery so he can throw more strikes? Is he athletic enough to repeat an improved delivery? Is Paxton a worker?

    As for injuries as a whole — Seattle is WAY down the list of pitcher injuries. You know who is very high? STL and BOS. There’s no one right way to handle pitchers and most of it is dumb luck. Clubs can’t completely ignore every arm that has a potential red flag in his delivery because then they’d be passing on the Strasburgs, Coles, Bundys and Gausmans of the world. Some of them get hurt and have surgery, some do not.

    So, in truth, Seattle does not have more than its fair share of pitcher injuries. Especially when you consider that Walker isn’t actually injured and Iwakuma’s finger injury was 1) a finger injury not an arm injury or anything that can be remotely related to how he was handled and 2) a freak injury at that.

    Ripperlv,
    The Mariners DID make a big push for rotation depth. Had market value interest in Matt Garza, Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez. From what I can gather, only way they get any of the three is by adding a year at $12-15 mil more in guaranteed dollars, which would have been a bad contract, of not downright awful — the 4 years Garza and Jimenez got is pushing it.

    If and when the club has to close the season on younger arms, they’ll have plenty of options to finish the season. If they are in contention in six weeks, they’ll look to add more depth, no question, since the second-half schedule will mean something and they won’t want to just roll out anyone to cover five or six frames.

  11. Paul Martin says:

    What did Paxton do to resolve his control issues that made him look like a future MLB reliever and NOT a starter just a year ago? Also, I don’t follow the entire league as closely as I follow Seattle, but it sure seems like we have more than our fair share of young pitcher injuries. Is this an accurate perception? Should we be concerned?

    Paxton has been so fun to watch, I sure hope he is OK and his injury issues don’t linger.

  12. Ripperlv says:

    Still amazed the M’s didn’t make a bigger push for rotation depth. Not just because of injury, but these young arms certainly have an innings cap later this year. Oh well, maybe Noesi will pass waivers and that should do it.

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