James Paxton: Analyzing Seattle Lefty’s Value for Rest of 2014

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Is James Paxton worth adding for the rest of the year? Well, to best answer that question, we need to look at a few things, starting with what he’s done so far.

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That’s obviously a pretty small sample size. How’s he been pitching since returning from injury in August?

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That all looks pretty good. I was actually at his most recent start against the Oakland Athletics and I can tell you that he had them baffled. Throughout the game, I was actually wondering if he might be worth adding to any or all of my teams.

But then I noticed something. While Paxton’s still pitching well enough to deserve fantasy consideration, this absolutely has to be noted.

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He was definitely struggling at the end.

Just to be clear, this wasn’t really a pitch count issue, as Paxton only threw 92 pitches before he was eventually pulled. Paxton was definitely tiring. If it was just a matter of a few extra hits, it could be pretty easily attributed to having a 6-0 lead and challenging the hitters more.

But walking hitters late in a game with a big lead and a fairly low pitch count is not what you want to see. Now, Paxton has thrown a quality start in four of six outings since returning from the DL, so his late-game ability isn’t a huge problem, but don’t expect anything beyond 6 or maybe 7 innings if he keeps a good pitch count.

Which leads us into our next question: Who are his remaining opponents?

Well, as things currently stand, Felix Hernandez would be in line to start a potential Wild Card game or one-game playoff. If Seattle, looks good to make that game, the rotation will probably hold. If not, they may reshuffle things. As James Paxton is currently in line to start the last game of the regular season, a reshuffled rotation probably means a lost start.

Having said that, if Paxton starts every fifth day for the Mariners, this is the group of opponents that he’ll be opposing.

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Now, what kind of offenses are those?

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Obviously these are full season rankings and not all of those offenses are hitting the same way they were earlier.

I like the Rangers game and the way they’ve been hitting, the A’s are a pretty favorable opponent for pitchers. We just Paxton throw a very good game against them.

But one game against the Blue Jays and two against the Angels are a little tough. If you need the help and are in a position where you have nothing to lose, there are certainly worse pitchers to gamble on than James Paxton, but guys like Mike Trout, Edwin Encarnacion, and Jose Bautista can make you regret starting a waiver wire pitcher against them in a hurry.

So, is he worth adding?

I like Paxton for the next few starts, but those last three are a lot more risky. My best advice is to start him for his next two outings and then reevaluate where you stand.

  • If he has two good outings and you still need the help, then you can’t afford to be picky on who you gamble on.
  • If he has two sub-par starts, I’d consider the experiment done and look for another pitcher.

For now, assuming he makes all five starts, this is what I think James Paxton will do for the remainder of the season.

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