Opening Day is tomorrow, so we have to do all of our pre-season predictions today! I made some early Mariners All-Star predictions two months ago, but now we need a refreshed version on who I think is going to Atlanta this summer.
In January, I listed Marco Gonzales, Kyle Lewis, Tom Murphy, and Justus Sheffield as my candidates to represent the Mariners. But this time, I am going to change things up by a bit. You could even consider some of my predictions as bold.
Mariners All-Star prediction no. 1 – James Paxton
James Paxton has yet to make the All-Star team, and I have a feeling that the “Big Maple” is going to have a huge season after returning “home” to Seattle. Paxton was Seattle’s fourth-round pick in 2010 and he has pitched like one since being drafted.
The 32-year-old veteran owns a career 3.58 ERA, a 3.31 FIP, and 829 strikeouts. When he was with Seattle for six years, he had a 3.42 ERA and 3.13 FIP. While with the Yankees, he posted a 4.16 ERA and 3.92 FIP.
With this prediction, I am hoping for a little luck and a big turnaround. Paxton’s numbers haven’t been trending in the right direction since the best season of his career. In 2017, he posted a 2.98 ERA, 2.61 FIP, .259 xwOBA, and a 2.87 xERA. Since then, he has declined but not to the point where he doesn’t provide value to a team.
In 2019, he posted a 3.82 ERA, 3.86 FIP, .291 xwOBA, and a 3.77 xERA. As I said, it’s not bad but it’s not what we associate with prime James Paxton. Last year, his numbers dropped even further but that was mostly a result of injuries.
Based on how he pitched in Spring Training, there is every reason to believe that he can bounce back. In 8.1 innings in the Cactus League, he allowed just one run. The Big Maple only gave up four hits and four walks, while striking out 17 batters.
I hope we get to see the 2017 version of James Paxton, and I am confident that we will. Now onto the second prediction.