James Paxton Get’s Roughed Up in Rehab Start


James Paxton pitched in a baseball game on Sunday night for the first time since straining a tendon in the middle finger on his left hand on May 28. Paxton has worked hard to get healthy again, and was sent out on Sunday for a rehab assignment in Tacoma.

Unfortunately, things did not according to plan tonight for the 26-year-old southpaw. Paxton was only in the game for 0.2 innings on Sunday, but he was touched up for 1 run on 2 hits. He did not record any strikeouts and issued 1 free pass. Paxton required 35 pitches to get 2 outs, but showed decent command with 22 of those pitches finding the strike zone.

This is the first live game action for Paxton in nearly three months, and some rust should be accepted. Pax-Man did throw a simulated game this week in Texas, but tonight was a very different environment. Paxton was on a very strict pitch count and that is the reason he was lifted in the middle of an at bat. However, I’m sure the Mariners’ brass were hoping his 35 pitches would last at least 1 full inning.

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.

Sometimes we read too much into the performances of players during rehab assignments. Pitchers typically approach these starts as an opportunity to work on specific areas of their game they feel need to be sharper before retuning to the big leagues. The results of the games themselves are of no consequence, thus players are usually just going through the motions in an attempt to build strength.

Obviously, it would have been nice to see Paxton pitch a pair of perfect innings. However, as long as Pax-Man did not re-aggravate his injury, tonight’s start was a success. It will likely take a couple more outings, but I expect Paxton to toe the rubber at Safeco Field in the early part of next month.

Next: Mariners Game Recap: M's Hold on to Beat White Sox

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