Yankees shouldn’t worry too much about James Paxton

James Paxton #65 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
James Paxton #65 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /
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Your frustration with James Paxton is justified, but don’t panic. The Yankees have plenty of time to fix Paxton’s command before October.

You, like many Yankees fans, probably had high expectations for James Paxton in 2019. At times, he seemed like the horse the team desperately needed on the mound. Well, that wasn’t the case on Sunday when the Colorado Rockies knocked him out of the game in the middle of the fourth inning.

Paxton surrendered seven of the Rockies eight runs, and four of them were earned. Through 3.1 innings, he struck out six batters, but allowed five hits, a home run, and walked three.

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Some may have attributed Paxton’s struggles to the tremendous heat over the weekend. But the Big Maple told the New York Post he wasn’t making any excuses for his poor outing.

"“I lost my rhythm a little bit,’’ Paxton said. “I didn’t locate very well and was falling behind.”“It was hot, but everyone was playing in the same weather,’’"

After analyzing his Baseball Savant profile, I came to a simple conclusion: Paxton is a great strikeout pitcher suffering from unexpected control issues. His percentages in every other element seem to be similar compared to his 2018 season.

In some cases, one can argue Paxton’s 2019 has been better than his 2018 since his barrel and hard-hit percentages are down. However, his walk percentage is up, and his strikeout rate is down.

The good news is that this can and will be fixed. It would be more alarming if Paxton’s fastball velocity were down, but the issue is that he’s merely struggling to find the strike zone. All of his pitches have a lower In Zone percentage compared to 2018.

If Paxton can attack the strike zone more often, he’ll have more dominating performances as he did on April 16 against the Red Sox. In that game, he pitched eight innings of two-hit ball, and only allowed one walk.

The fact that we’ve seen Paxton perform at this high of a level already in 2019 makes me feel like he can figure his mechanics out soon. It’s essential he does because the Yankees are a bonafide contender for the World Series.

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If he’s on top of his game, and if the Yanks acquire another quality pitcher before the upcoming trade deadline, they should have a solid postseason pitching rotation. And their rotation would be that much better if Luis Severino returns before the end of the year.