I went to the Mariners game on Tuesday night, and watched James Paxton dominate the Kansas City Royals for seven shutout innings – virtually wiping out the Royals playoff hopes.
Paxton allowed just four hits and struck out ten batters. Most impressively, Paxton did not walk anybody.
The big lefty has now started four games for the Mariners, and he’s had three excellent starts. His one so-so outing came at Detroit, against (arguably) the best lineup in the majors – and even that outing wasn’t real bad (five innings, three runs).
At this point I think you have to consider Paxton a strong candidate to earn a spot at the back of the Mariners starting rotation coming out of spring training next year. Why not? He’ll be 25 years old, he’s a workhorse, and he’s shown that he can dominate a quality major league lineup when he has his good command. If he gets wild and starts walking everybody, send him back to Tacoma to work it out.
There have been a number of prospect analysts who think that Paxton profiles better as a reliever, but I am staunchly opposed to that. This is a left-hander who can reach 97 MPH on his 100th pitch of the game – that is a rare thing; you don’t shift a talent like that to the bullpen unless he absolutely proves that he cannot start.
I believe that Paxton should start every fifth day in the majors in 2014, and be given the opportunity to succeed. If he doesn’t succeed, then send him down – he’s got three option years remaining.
There was quite a bit of Mariners news yesterday, so let’s hit the links:
- We start with Ryan Divish’s game story on James Paxton‘s dominating effort last night.
- Mariners upper management confirmed that they are committed to General Manager Jack Z through the off-season and into 2014. The story includes some speculation regarding Eric Wedge and Daren Brown.
- We have bad news today, too: Danny Hultzen‘s shoulder problems have continued, and he’s going to see Dr. James Andrews. If he needs surgery, he should have it immediately and begin the rehabilitation process.
- St. Louis Cardinals rookie Michael Wacha came one out away from a no-hitter against the Washington Nationals last night. Perhaps you were one of the 4,127 people who saw the Rainiers get two hits off Wacha (over seven innings) on May 16 at Cheney Stadium. Rich Poythress was there – he took Wacha deep for the Rainiers only run against the right-hander.
There are only four more Mariners games left this season – but it looks like we’re going to have some fun MLB playoffs this year, with new teams like the Pirates and the Indians in there.