The King’s Right Hand Man: James Paxton Promoted To #2 Starter
James Paxton is underrated. That’s just a fact. He’s been stuck in King Felix’s shadow since his debut. He quietly has posted a career ERA of 3.28 in 299 innings. Blame it on his lack of run support or his hangnail (detached fingernail) he’s been overlooked on the national stage. Maybe that ends soon. The Mariners announced that coming off of Thursday’s off day, they would be shuffling the rotation to have Paxton pitch between Felix and Iwakuma.
Paxton has pitched absolutely brilliantly this year. Zero runs in 13 innings is a pretty Cy Young state even if we’re just a week into the season.
Paxton sits atop the MLB in WAR among pitchers at 0.9. Even if you’re not a firm believer in next-gen stats, he tops the list in ERA and is fourth in WHIP with 0.69.
While he’s not killing batters with the strikeout, he’s getting the job done better than ever, and that’s the reason for the promotion.
While Hisashi Iwakuma is getting bumped out of the two spot, this is more a testament to Paxton’s dominance than Iwakuma’s regression.
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Iwakuma has thrown 12 innings while surrendering just three runs en route to a 2.25 ERA. With a WHIP of exactly one, he’s not pitching badly by any stretch.
Even with Felix Hernandez stumbling out of the gate, the M’s cannot blame their poor start on their first three starters. Hernandez, Paxton, and Iwakuma have a combined ERA of 2.00, a combined WHIP of 1.00.
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Paxton hasn’t been this high in a rotation since high school. He went on to play college ball at the University of Kentucky and was set to be a reliever. However, after finding success against tough SEC foes, he was converted to a starter his sophomore year.
The Mariners got lucky with Paxton. In 2009, Paxton was selected in the first round of the draft by Toronto. He chose to not sign with the Blue Jays and return to Kentucky for his senior season.
He would be ruled ineligible by the NCAA due to his contract with agent Scott Bora. The Mariners selected him in the fourth round of the 2010 draft.
All in all, Paxton is off to a career start, and looks to keep it going for all of 2017. If he can continue to pitch like he has through two games, and if his acrylic nail can hold on, he’ll be an x-factor for the M’s this season and hopefully in the years to come.
Paxton is currently only signed through this season. Keeping him in Seattle should be high on Jerry Dipoto’s priority list in the near future.
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Paxton will make his first start from the #2 spot Saturday at Safeco Field against the Rangers. A solid performance by Paxton could help the Mariners pick up some momentum, momentum that will be key for getting the Mariners out of the hole they’ve dug themselves to start 2017.