Yankees: James Paxton loves the month of August


After struggling for much of the 2019 season, James Paxton has rebounded nicely in August. Finally, he has performed like the top-end starter the Yankees traded for.

The Yankees acquired James Paxton in a trade with the Seattle Mariners in November 2018. Paxton, 30, was coming off his two strongest seasons as a Mariner and the Yanks looked to him to be a high-end starter in their rotation.

It hasn’t always been pretty for Paxton in 2019, who sports a career-high 4.43 ERA at the moment. However, the month of August has been very kind to ‘The Big Maple.’

In those five starts, the 30-year old lefty is 5-0 with a 2.40 ERA and 35 strikeouts, according to Baseball Reference. Paxton has found his groove at the right time, as the Bombers are currently in the chase for home-field advantage during the postseason. In four of his five August starts, Paxton has pitched at least six innings and thrown at least 100 pitches.

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Paxton is finally giving the team length — and the bullpen a well-deserved rest. So, what’s the secret behind his recent success?

Well, Paxton has mixed his pitches more effectively in August than at any point this season. FanGraphs shows that overall, Paxton throws his four-seam fastball 61.7 percent of the time, his cut-fastball 21.7 percent of the time and his curveball 16.5 percent.

In five August starts, those same pitch splits are respectively, 50.7 percent, 21 percent and 25 percent. The numbers suggest that he has relied less on his fastball and more on his filthy knuckle curve.

This improved approach was even more pronounced in his most recent start against the Los Angeles Dodgers, where Paxton went 6.2 innings, gave up two runs and struck out 11. His fastball was used at 45.3 percent and the curve, a season-high 32.1 percent.

Paxton passes the eye test too. He’s working faster, looks more confident out there and is keeping hitters off balance. The Yankees and their fans will feel a lot better about a postseason rotation if Paxton continues pitching like this.

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So, James Paxton shouldn’t just like pitching in the month of August. He should love it.