May 17, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners pitcher James Paxton (65) throws a pitch in the sixth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
Stock Rising – James Paxton
James Paxton came into the season with big expectations, slotted into the number two spot in the rotation. The Mariners did this for two reasons. One, he is a good pitcher in his own right, and very deserving of the spot. But they also did this because they wanted to break up the two dominant righties in Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma with a southpaw, and James Paxton fits the bill. Pitching in-between those two guys comes with pressure, and that seemed to be affecting him a little bit at the start of the season, and I think the cause of his slow start.
This week was a much different story, as no such felt pressure could be spotted. Paxton settled down in a big way, and that has been huge for the Mariners. He’s pitched 20 consecutive scoreless innings dating back to his start against the Angels, and he’s shut out the San Diego Padres and the Boston Red Sox this week. An even better sign is the fact that he pitched deep into the game against Boston, pitching eight scoreless innings of five hit ball. Going deep into the game is not only good for his confidence, but it also takes pressure off the bullpen.
It’s imperative that the Mariners can send someone out there not named Felix Hernandez, and be confident that they can get a good outing and have a great chance at winning. If this week is any indication, James Paxton looks to be molding into that guy.
Next: Rickie Weeks