Sep 18, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Seattle Mariners pitching coach Carl Willis (48) talks to starting pitcher James Paxton (65) after he walks in a run for the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

When Will James Paxton Arrive?


Now that the Mariners season is over and gone it is time to figure out what comes next for 2014. Most posts here at Sodo Mojo these next few months will be all about the who what where when why and how of the Mariners’ future. Things need to change, and continuing trending in the right direction, if the M’s want to have a chance for a special 2014 season.

One of the most important things will be the rotation. Aside from Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma as the Cy Young-caliber 1-2 punch, the rest of the rotation is a total tossup. Yes Pocket Rocket Erasmo Ramirez is around, along with Brandon Maurer and Blake Beavan.

Danny Hultzen just had surgery, so it seems that 2014 may not be his year.

But there are two minor leaguers- Taijuan Walker and James Paxton- who flexed their muscles while with the big squad in September and a making a case to be a part of the 2014 starting rotation. In this post I want to focus on Paxton.

This entire season spent down in Triple-A by Paxton was fairly pedestrian. He wasn’t blowing people away or giving the Mariners an idea of his ceiling or potential.

His numbers looked like this down in Triple-A Tacoma:

8-11, 4.45 ERA, 145.2 Innings pitched, 158 hits, 84 runs against, 72 earned runs, 10 home runs, 58 walks, 14 wild pitches, 131 strikeouts.

Those numbers aren’t terrible. But they also don’t exactly warrant a Major League call-up. His walks are far too high and his control was sorely lacking in the minors. Sure he was striking out plenty of guys, but if you cannot locate your pitches in the big leagues you won’t be around for long.

It’s Paxton’s numbers when he played with the Mariners in September, however, that make me wonder if he has what it takes to be on the 25-man roster come opening day next season.

Take a look at these September numbers:

4GS, 3-0, 24.0 innings pitched, 15 hits allowed, 5 runs, 4 earned runs, 2 home runs, 7 walks, 21 strikeouts, 0.92 WHIP, .172 batting average against, 1.50 ERA.

To say he looked good playing for the Mariners would be an understatement. Sure, his walks were still too high. But the batting average against, WHIP and ERA make you wonder if he has what it takes.

I think he does. Come April 1st of 2014, James Paxton will be the four or five starter for the Seattle Mariners. You can write that down and quote me on it. It is going to happen and I have no doubt about it.

Why? First of all because he looked good against major league competition in major league games. Second, he is a lefty starting pitcher and the Mariners could use one of those in the rotation. Also, if we are going to go young, do it all out!

Though he will no doubt struggle as a starter, look for him to perform better than Maurer did. And look for him to develop into a mid-rotation staple for the Mariners for years to come.


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  • maqman

    Very small MLB sample size and the walks are a worry. Time will tell. Our rotation was our main weakness this season, but not the only one. I’m really hoping they go for Tanaka and either Feldman or Colon. Counting on the kids alone is too risky.

  • drwheelock

    Z is going to have to go out and land 2 SPs. Love the thought of Walker/Paxton/Hultzen behind Felix & Iwakuma, but you’ve just seen with Hultzen that we need SP rotation depth despite having these young studs coming up. Like maqman said betting on Walker & Paxton is TOOOO risky. Our rotation this year was the problem. Our #3-5 spots were causing so much work on the bullpen, that our bullpen ended up being overworked way too much. Strengthen the rotation with inning eaters, and these young bullpen arms will do a LOT better in 2014. I still think we need another solid Bullpen arm to ad the our repitore

  • drwheelock

    Words out today that the Brewers would like to move 28 year old Braun and his contract after this PED thing, and he’s signed through 2021. One MLB Executive and GM said that the Brewers will be hard pressed to find another GM willing to take on that contract?! WOW are you kidding me? This is the kind of LFer that Seattle can build around…power, gap hitter, 300+ career avg, solid LF defense, AND only 28! Contract is backloaded, but 2014 is only $10m and $12m for 2015. I’m sure Brewers would have to kick in some from 2016-2020 though, but this is the type of OF bat that is available that Seattle needs to JUMP on ‘if’ they actually make him available.

    At present we have $32.5m on committed 2014 contracts…

    My OFFSEASON Wish List Is:

    1. Hire Girardi (God I’d Love that!)
    2. Trade for Braun ($10M in 2014)
    3. Sign Ellsbury ($15m in 2014 5yr deal $75m)
    4. Sign Lincecum ($15m in 2014 5yr deal $80m)
    5. Sign either Colon or Arroyo ($10m in 2014 3yr deal $30m)
    6. Re-Sign Morales ($10m in 2014 3yr deal $30m)
    7. Trade Walker, Franklin, and others for Stanton (whatever it takes) and Ackley back to 2B.

    Another potential option is Napoli for a 1B split with Smoak, and also have him as our backup C?!

    That is adding $60m and keeps us well under $100m!

    2014 Rotation
    Colon OR Arroyo
    Paxton OR Walker

    2014 Lineup
    CF Ellsbury
    SS Miller
    RF Stanton (If not Stanton…then Gutz & Ibanez platoon in RF)
    LF Braun
    DH/1B Morales
    3B Seager
    1B Smoak
    2B Ackley
    C Zunino/Montero

    2014 Bench
    DH/1B Morales (1B against LHPing and sit Smoak)
    4th OFer Almonte
    DH/OF/PH Ibanez
    IF (Utility Infielder: Best AAA available player)

    “If” we can’t land Stanton then buyout Gutz and resign on a 2yr incentive deal for around $3m, and resign Ibanez for $3m too.

    It’s that time of year where we get to DREAM, and then watch our dreams get shot out of the water.

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