James Paxton was key in 2019 and will be again in 2020 for the Yankees
The starting rotation for the New York Yankees was a weakness in 2018 and they aimed to bolster that part of their club during the offseason. A trade with the Seattle Mariners during the winter sent the left-hander to the Bronx. James Paxton had a rocky 2019 for the Yankees as he pitched inconsistently at times, and one of the reasons why he struggled was giving up first-inning home runs. He ended up finding his groove after the All-Star break and became a reliable starter for the Yankees.
In his first season in pinstripes, Paxton went 15-6, but his ERA was a little high, approaching four. He started 29 games for the Yankees, pitching 150 innings. Paxton struck out 186 batters but gave up 23 home runs. His command was a little off at times as he walked a total of 55 batters. Paxton also got hit quite a bit as he gave up 138 hits. All of these categories were the most Paxton had given up during his seven-year career.
The big test would come in the playoffs, and Paxton didn’t have the best performance, but he pitched well enough to put the Yankees in contention to win. Against the Twins, he pitched into the fifth inning, giving up five hits, three earned runs two of those runs came via the home run. Paxton pitched well against the Astros but not in the first game. He threw the game of his postseason career in New York against the Astros when he pitched six innings, giving up one run on four hits and four walks.
Although his first season in the Bronx could have gone better because there were a handful of categories in which Paxton struggled mightily, his 2020 probably will be better. He will be the number 3 pitcher in the starting rotation behind Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka, which means he will be going up against the opposing team’s third-best pitcher. A lot of MLB teams don’t have the strong rotation that the Yankees or the Washington Nationals do so that the edge will go to Paxton and New York.
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I hope that he can figure out some of his woes because he is in a contract year, and most teams won’t pay for a guy giving up nearly 30 home runs and almost 150 hits. Once again, the addition of Cole should ease the tension among the pitching staff, and hopefully, Paxton takes full advantage of the opportunity in front of him. I could see him making roughly 15-20 starts barring no injuries, and it is a real possibility that he can hit double digits in wins for the Yankees. Paxton should continue to rack up the strikeouts, but his command worries me at times. He finds himself in too many 3-2 counts, and then he loses the hitter. If the walks and home runs go down, the wins will go up, and the Yankee pitching staff should flourish in 2020. Paxton could be the x-factor on the mound to help bring the 28th World Series trophy back to the Bronx.