My Reaction: James Paxton Debut
James Paxton, the Seattle Mariners 4th round pick in the 2010 MLB Draft (after being taken in the 1st round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2009 and not signing), made his debut against the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night.
- The Rays broadcast was saying his fastball fluctuates 7 mph throughout the game, but it was sitting 94-95 mph in the first inning, touching 97, which would make him a pretty dynamic starter, even if it is as a No.3 or No.4 starter, as it appears that he would be in Seattle behind Felix Hernandez and Taijuan Walker down the road.
- Paxton’s breaking ball was bouncing a lot in the first, but his release point looked consistent from the couch.
- 14-pitch first, which isn’t bad in a debut. Two ground-ball outs.
- Mid-90′s in the second still, hitting 96 on Wil Myers.
- He got behind Myers 3-1 with several very close fastballs (nothing but fastballs in the six-pitch at-bat), but came back and got the ground out to third.
- Relying heavily on the fastball in the second after bouncing nearly every off-speed pitch that he threw in the first.
- Hit 98 on a fastball against James Loney, who then lined the next pitch to left on a 3-1 count.
- Finally threw a big, looping curve for a strike in the second to Sean Rodriguez, following that with a high and tight 97 mph fastball.
- Really off with the off-speed stuff, which is why he’s relying so much on the fastball.
- Walked Rodriguez. Inconsistent with release, almost aiming.
- Three ground-ball outs in the second. Even with the inconsistency in his secondary stuff to this point, Paxton has good downward plane on the fastball, which is making the Rays hitters pound the ball into the ground.
- 24-pitch second inning for Paxton but even with the hit and the walk, it was good to see him overcome that and continue attacking the zone.
- Two-pitch at-bat for Yunel Escobar, who, shockingly, grounded out.
- Very nice breaking ball (85 mph) to Desmond Jennings in the dirt, who will go down as Paxton’s first career strikeout…on three pitches.
- One-two-three inning as Ben Zobrist hits the ball hard to Michael Saunders for the final out.
- All of seven pitches to get through the third inning as Paxton continues to show solid velocity and seems to be getting more comfortable with the breaking ball release; although, he is still using it very sparingly.
- Six of nine outs via the ground-ball variety.
James Paxton is thru 3IP, 1H, 0R, K, BB, 45-26 in major league debut. #Mariners
— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) September 8, 2013
- Evan Longoria jumped on a first-pitch fastball – ground-out to Kyle Seager at third.
- Looks like an 88-90 mph changeup that Paxton has, rather than the seven mph difference mentioned earlier, but it isn’t very sharp and it looks like it is aimed.
- High flyball to Raul Ibanez by Delmon Young for the second out.
- Paxton still is pounding the fastball down against right-handed hitters. With the velocity, the Rays seem overwhelmed.
- A fastball up to Myers driven to left for a base hit.
- Good, 79 mph breaking ball to Loney to start off the at-bat. followed by a good 96 mph fastball down in the zone.
- Ground-ball to Nick Franklin for out number three.
- 12-pitch fourth for Paxton.
James Paxton continues pitching very well in MLB debut vs Rays. He’s thru 4 innings on 2 hits with 3-0 lead on 57 pitches.
— Greg Johns (@GregJohnsMLB) September 8, 2013
- Paxton started the fifth by working around Sean Rodriguez again, nibbling the outside corner with several fastballs before striking him out with a 97 mph heater.
- Curveball is looking much more impressive – Jose Lobaton‘s swing at the offering was not very impressive. A couple of pitches after flailing at the curve, Lobaton grounded out to Franklin at second.
- I saw three breaking balls in the inning and they were all strikes. He got Escobar to ground out to third.
- 15-pitch inning. 2 K’s, 1 BB, 2 H, 10 ground-ball outs through five solid innings.
- Still sitting 94-97 with the fastball at 72 pitches (46 strikes).
- Paxton seems more confident in his stuff without trying to overpower hitters, as he is sitting on the outside corner at 94 pretty consistently…then comes inside and gets Jennings to groundout to short.
- Zobrist pounds it into the ground to Seager at third, but a throwing error allows him to reach first.
- After falling behind 2-0 to Longoria, Paxton gets a visit from Mike Zunino, goes fastball inside (94), and 95 in Longoria’s wheelhouse for a long home run.
- Paxton regains his composure and strikes out Delmon Young on a good breaking ball in the dirt.
- Pitch number 89 was 96 mph to Wil Myers. Still bringing good velocity.
- Myers blooped it to right and it hits off of Justin Smoak‘s glove while Smoak’s right knee clipped Nick Franklin’s head…scary injury.
- Loney follows Myers hit with a long fly-ball to Saunders for the final out.
After six innings and 95 pitches, it is safe to say that Paxton’s debut was very solid. His final line:
Solid fastball and occasionally solid curveball out of Paxton during his debut. It seems as though he’ll get a much longer look in the rotation over the rest of the 2013 than Taijuan Walker, who will likely be shutdown after his start next week.
Paxton has the stuff to be a solid, innings-eater in the middle of a rotation, but if he were to find more consistency with his stuff, he could be a No.2 starter. A 94 to 97 mph fastball is very good for any pitcher, but that type of velocity out of a left-handed pitcher is downright sexy. He had 11 ground-ball outs tonight, pounding his fastball down in the zone. His curveball wasn’t consistent enough to warrant a lot of praise, but if he finds more consistency out of both the curve and the changeup (which wasn’t very useful or present tonight at 88 to 90 mph), he could be very useful to the rebuilding Mariners.
After tossing 145.2 innings in Triple-A, Paxton should be a fixture in the Seattle rotation in 2014. While he is still a work in progress, The stuff is there to be effective in the majors. Tonight was a very good debut for the 24-year-old left-hander, but there is still some work needed for the powerful southpaw.