With so much going in the Mariners organization at the winter meetings and during the off-season, we may have lost sight that the World Baseball Classic is coming this March. For Team Canada, the Mariners James Paxton seems to be a no-brainer as Canada’s anchor for their rotation.
In 2013, Canada’s rotation was led by Mississauga, Ontario‘s, Shawn Hill. This time around, Hill is not playing and hasn’t played any level of baseball since 2015.
I would like to say that it would be a tough-fought battle to earn the number one spot of Canada’s rotation, but it isn’t.
The great white north’s number two in 2013 was Chris Leroux, a journeyman right-hander who hasn’t pitched at the big league level since 2014.
He has pitched triple-A ball for the Toronto Blue Jays affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons, but his play hasn’t been anything to write home about; his ERA this past season was 4.87.
Another unlikely possibility for Team Canada is Scott Diamond. He was another member of Canada’s 2013 WBC roster but has struggled to make any impact in the MLB since.
Diamond has been working his way around the minor league system since his 6-13 2013 year where his ERA was 5.43. He did play one game in the majors this past year -it was a brief relief outing in which he gave up a handful of runs in one inning for the Blue Jays.
So, if not the Mariners Paxton? Then who? Jameson Tallion could be the guy that potentially gives Paxton a run for his money.
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Tallion, originally a top-ten prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise, has lost a lot of stock in the past five years. He was last seen barely making the top fifty prospect rankings in 2016, but that didn’t stop the Pirates from giving him a shot at the MLB level.
He tried to prove doubters wrong by having an impressive year as a rookie. His 5-4 record and 3.38 ERA may have surprised a few people but, was it enough to make Team Canada question starting Paxton on WBC opening day/
Paxton appears to be the go-to option this March. His career MLB ERA is 3.43 over fifty starts. And, while that may not seem like a lot, compared to his fellow starting-pitching countrymen, it proves to be a major differentiator.
Paxton’s career twenty-seven quality starts, including many games where he has pitched nearly an entire game without allowing a run, is what excites Team Canada, about the Mariners young star.
His career numbers and overall experience against high-quality talent is why the Mariners James Paxton will be the number one start for Canada’s game one of the World Baseball Classic, March 9th-22nd of 2017.