Mariners News: James Paxton Strikes Out 8 in 5+ Nearly Shutout Innings
Pax-Man nearly shut out the Sacramento River Cats on Monday night, as he picked up his second consecutive win with the Tacoma Rainiers.
James Paxton was brilliant on Monday night for the Tacoma Rainiers. The big southpaw hurled 5.1 innings against the Sacramento River Cats en route to earning his second win of the season. Pax-Man was in complete control throughout, fanning 8 and walking none. The River Cats tallied just 4 hits, scored 1 unearned run and posted a combined .239 batting average. Paxton hurled 88 total pitches, 59 of which found the strike zone.
The 27-year-old had a terrible start to 2016 in Tacoma, but he has found his game as of late. Paxton allowed 8 runs across this first two outings, and posted a dismal 5:9 strikeout to walk ratio. However, he has gone 2-0 since while allowing 0 earned runs and registering an 11:0 strikeout to walk ratio through 11.1 innings.
All told, Paxton is 2-2 with a 4.08 ERA through fours starts in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League this season. He has limited the opposition to a .239 batting average, but has allowed 1.42 walks/hits per inning. Pax-Man has struck out 16 and walked 9 in 17.2 innings pitched.
Paxton has made 30 starts with the Mariners since he made his big league debut 2013. He sports a 12-8 record with a stingy 3.16 ERA. Paxton has struck out 136 batters and issued 56 free passes in 165 innings. Remarkably, hitters have only managed to post a .229 batting average against Paxton.
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However, staying healthy has been much more difficult than getting hitters out for James Paxton during his career. Paxton was sidelined with a lat issue from April 8 to August 2 in 2015. Worse yet, he only made three starts for Seattle after straining a finger on his throwing hand on May 28 last year. He has made 13 starts in each of the past two seasons, and has never pitched more than 74 innings in a single season.
Many expected the Ladner, BC native to make the M’s opening day roster in 2016, but he was passed over in favor of Nate Karns. Jerry Dipoto traded for Karns this offseason, and the M’s new GM wanted to see how “his” guy would fare in Seattle. So far the results have been less than inspiring. Karns is 1-1 with a 5.28 ERA through three outings.
It’s possible that Paxton could be recalled to replace Karns in the Mariners’ rotation, but the biggest problem for Seattle right now is Wade Miley. The veteran southpaw has been awful through his first four starts, going 1-1 with a 7.04 ERA. The bearded wonder has allowed 18 runs on 32 hits in 23 innings.
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It’s rare for a pitcher of James Paxton’s caliber to spend much time in Class-AAA. He has a proven track record of success in the big leagues, and he is one of the Mariners’ best hurlers when healthy. If he continues to impress in Tacoma, Pax-Man will force his way back to Safeco Field before long.