TACOMA, Wash. — Seattle Mariners left-hander James Paxton made his first rehab start Saturday on his path back to the active roster and while the end-result was encouraging — despite a poor final line — it’s clear he’s not ready to return from the disabled list just yet. That fact should not be surprising, though, since he’s been out six weeks and is basically going through another spring training right now.

Paxton threw 62 pitches, 38 for strikes, sitting 90-91 mph with his fastball, touching 92 on a number of occasions. As one would expect, his command was not there due to an inconsistent release point. It appeared as if he was having some balance problems with his land foot, another very common issue at this stage of rehab. He did flash the good curveball at 79-82 mph and had a good changeup most of his three innings. He was set to get to 75 pitches, but threw the final 13 of those in the bullpen at Cheney Stadium.

He wasn’t hit hard, but did yield a few squared-up luine drives. He also punched out five to counter two walks, four hits and two earned runs.

Paxton said after the game that he could have thrown the full 75, felt fine, and believes he’s getting closer. “I think it was good. Felt like the ball was coming out pretty well. Still got a few things to work on, get some timing back and stuff, but it was pretty good.

“I feel like it’s one tick away with that timing, getting that back, everything firing at the right time. I think it’s just really close right now.”

Close? Perhaps. In my opinion, however, he needs and will get at least one more start in the minors. He may get two, but it depends on how well start No. 2 goes.

Paxton said he will have a conversation with the Mariners Sunday to determine what the next step is moving forward. How his shoulder responds during the coming 24-48 hours also will help determine what comes next.

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Jason A. Churchill

Churchill founded Prospect Insider in 2006 after getting his start at InsidethePark.com. He spent several years covering prep, college and pro sports for various newspapers, including The News Tribune and Seattle PI. Jason spent 4 1/2 years at ESPN and two years at CBS Radio prior to joining HERO Sports in July, 2016. Find Jason's Mariners podcast, Baseball Things, right here and follow him on Twitter @ProspectInsider.

11 Comments

  1. Dave,

    Landazuri has a sore shoulder, I am told. Club playing it safe, of course.

  2. Jason, what have you heard about Stephen Landazuri? He was doing great at the beginning of the year, but then got (I thought) a minor injury. However, he’s now been out for over a month….

  3. Let Paxton take as much time as he needs – he’s too talented a pitcher, and very good lefties are hard to come by.

  4. Looks like Paxton is being shut down for another week or so due to upper arm/ shoulder stiffness per the Times.

  5. Keith Law’s latest mock draft, released today, has us taking Alex Jackson. Man I hope he falls to us. That would be a dream come true IMO.

  6. I agree with Jason that Paxton should get at least one more start at Triple-A before returning to the majors, but because of that, I wouldn’t be surprised if that means Maurer gets one more start before potentially being sent down. I do agree with you as well — I don’t think there’s much to be gained with Maurer right now in Seattle, but there doesn’t really appear to be another option aside from Ramirez, and he’s been struggling as well.

  7. I’ve had about all of Maurer I can stand, he needs to go down to Tacoma too. I don’t think that Paxton is quite ready to jump back into The Show but they could give a spot start to Jordan Pries, he has pitched 40.0 innings in Tacoma and has a 1.80 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. He would be hard pressed to be worse than Maurer.

  8. Ripperlv

    While agree with you that the depth at SP was a little thin at the start of the offseason very few teams have the depth of losing 3 of your starting five for a extended length at the same time. There was an article of the A’s not long ago that stated they like the depth to be around 7-8 Starters and they plan for injuries while they make their rosters. The article stated that this was not the norm throughout the majors. While I think that is a stretch, we did have our #2, 3, 4 spots in our rotation on the DL and that would hurt any team. Elias was suppose to be our #5 starter. So considering where we are and are starting to get healthier again soon this going to get better.

    Like you said neither deserve the majors at the moment but Maurer is almost pitching just like Ramirez was before he was sent down. Some okay to decent innings then crushed. Maurer also hasnt gone deep enough in games at all averaging less than 5 innings per start, in fact only has one start over 5 innings the 14 hit lose to the Royals. He also has k:bb 15/10 and in 28.1 innings has given up 22 ER with a batting line of .316 and a FIP hovering around 5. He is getting lit up hard up here. Hopefully Paxton can come back and be close to what he was before the injury it is much needed.

  9. Is this the same Ramirez of an ERA of 5 at Tacoma? I don’t think Mac has a man crush at all with Mauer, actually he’s rather frank in stating that Mauer needs to take it up another level. I don’t think he has much choice who he starts. Neither Mauer or Ramirez deserves it. Regardless, I hope they don’t use Paxton until he’s ready. I think the lack of rotation depth has been a problem well before the season started and it shows in the AAA rotation as well.

  10. I too would rather see Ramirez, or even Beavan for that matter.

  11. I get the go easy with Paxton and Walker philosophy. What I find head scratching with McClendon is the level of patience for Brandon Maurer, and the complete impatience with Erasmo Ramirez. Maurer is so easily rattled, Ramirez simply needs more of a killer instinct when he gets ahead in the counts. If we have to wait longer for Paxton/Walker, then Ramirez is the obvious choice. (It’s not like bringing up Almonte to now replace James Jones, but this Skipper’s man-crushes are very strange).

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