James Paxton Successfully Pitches Simulated Game

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The Seattle Mariners have been without the services of James Paxton since he strained a tendon in the middle finger on his throwing hand during a start on May 28. His recovery has taken much longer than originally anticipated. However, it appears Paxton may be nearly ready to go out on a rehab assignment.

Paxton threw a simulated game this afternoon in Arlington. The 26-year-old southpaw hurled 2 innings under the watchful eye of the M’s training staff and reporters. He threw 15 pitches per inning, good for a combined 30 pitches in total. It was a very brief workout, but Paxton reportedly looked sharp on the bump.

Below is a video shot by Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times of James Paxton pitching today at Globe Life Park in Arlington, TX.

Bob Dutton of The News Tribune caught up with Paxton after he got off the mound, and he was very enthusiastic about how he pitched. The Ladner, BC product told Dutton that “after today, personally I feel I’m ready to go for a rehab start.”

That is very encouraging news for Mariners’ fans, but Lloyd McClendon pumped the brakes a bit when he spoke to reporters prior to Tuesday’s game. The M’s skipper acknowledged that Paxton “threw the ball with a lot of life, [and] felt no pain.” However, when asked if Paxton is ready for a rehab assignment, Lloyd took the cautious approach. McClendon suggested, “we’ll see how it goes, we’ll check him out tomorrow and see where we are.”

The final hurdle for Paxton before being sent out on assignment will come this Thursday when he is expected to throw a bullpen session at Safeco field. If he feels fine after that, I see no reason why the Mariners will not send him for a rehab start in the minors.

Paxton was 3-3 with a 3.70 ERA across 10 outings for the M’s prior to hurting himself against the Cleveland Indians in late May. He’s tallied 45 strikeouts and walked 22 through 58.1 innings so far this season. The Mariners are not getting much from their starting pitching lately, and I’m sure they would welcome a healthy James Paxton back with open arms.

Paxton has fared remarkably well with Seattle over the last 3 seasons, but staying healthy has been a major concern. Since being called up in September of 2013, Paxton is 12-7 with a 3.05 ERA across 27 career starts. He has posted a 2.16 strikeout to walk ratio through 156.1 innings, and limited the opposition to 1.196 walks/hits per inning. However, he has been sidelined for half the season with injuries in each of the last two years.

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The Mariners are banking on James Paxton combining with Felix Hernandez and Taijuan Walker in the coming seasons to create a formidable starting rotation. However, they will be forced to alter their plans if Paxton cannot stay healthy over the course of a 162-game season. There are a lot of moving parts to his delivery, and that seems to be the root cause of his frequent trips to the disabled list.

I hope everything goes according to plan for Paxton this week, and he is healthy enough to go out on a rehab assignment next week. I still believe Pax-Man will help anchor this pitching staff in 2016, and he could even be an All-Star down the road. Paxton has shown a lot of patience and maturity during his recovery, and I think he deserves to finish out the season in the Mariners’ starting rotation.

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