Mariners Analysis: Who Should be the M’s 5th Starter in 2016?

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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

James Paxton – LHP

The 27-year-old southpaw was limited to just 13 starts last season, as he yet again struggled to stay healthy. James Paxton posted a record of 3-4 with a 3.90 ERA in 2015. He tallied 56 strikeouts and issued 29 free passes across 67 innings of work. Paxton allowed a career worst, 1.433 walks/hits per inning.

Prior to going down on May 28, Paxton was pitching as well as anyone in baseball. Pax-Man was on a roll, going 3-1 and registering a 1.63 ERA during his previous 6 starts. His best performance came against the Boston Red Sox at Safeco Field on May 17, where he hurled 8 shutout frames en route to earning the win.

When healthy, Paxton is one of the better young lefties in baseball. The Ladner, BC product has gone 12-8 with a 3.16 ERA over the course of 30 outings in the big leagues. Paxton has struck out 136 and walked 65 in 165 innings.

Due to Paxton’s small workload in 2015, the Mariners opted to send him to the Arizona Fall League. Paxton did not fare well against the best young talent in the game, going 2-4 with a 4.60 ERA across 7 starts. However, his 3.63 strikeout to walk ratio suggests he was more effective than his ERA leads you to believe.

Baseball Reference is excepting a better season from James Paxton in 2016. They believe he will go 6-5 with a 3.65 ERA through 101 innings next year. The experts at FanGraphs are slightly less optimistic. They predict Paxton will go 4-5 with a 4.11 ERA across 72 innings.

Next: Nate Karns