When Will James Paxton Arrive?


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

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.