Unfortunately when you watch a lot of baseball, there’s guys who at the eye-level look awesome (whoa, not like that though!) that turn out to just never put forth the numbers.  You get this big lumbering Canadian, with this long but smooth delivery, hitting high-90s at times, and you get all excited and…  It turns out to be James Paxton‘s bumpy start to his career.  A few nice stretches, but very inconsistent Ks, inconsistent control, AND THE INJURIES!!  Long-term lat strain last year, he sprains both his forearms tripping in Spring Training, then sprains a finger tendon which keeps him out almost this entire season.  Hey Pax, I have a finger with a sprained tendon for ya too!

Even with all these injuries, I still think I’ll rank Paxton favorably next year…  Eesh, I just know I will…  But I did want to see his final starts of 2015 before my off-season work…  So I decided to break down his return off the DL yesterday afternoon hosting the Rockies to see if he’s worth a spot start or two for the stretch run, or will be the worst ranked pitcher yet again in my 2016 ranks:

First Inning: Paxton’s first pitch is a nice 93 MPH fastball in the zone to Charlie Blackmon, 0-1.  He follows it up with a sinking heater at 94 that gets a lazy chop to first for an easy first out.  Nice start!  Another sinking fastball at 94 is barely low to DJ LeMahieu – that looked good to me, no bias! – 94 skips in there obviously low, 94 again at the knees gets the call this time 2-1, 95 is low, 3-1.  At least he’s missing low in the zone…  Another fastball at 95 is well inside, and not a pretty walk.  Nolan Arenado takes 93 low and outside, and out comes M’s catcher Steven Baron for a chat.  Let’s see if Pax can find some command.  94 perfectly placed on the low outside black is fouled off – all fastballs so far – then a 1-1 change-up gets Arenado so far in front that I think I need to change my pants:

Paxton-changeup

86 MPH on that one, first off-speed gets a swing like that?!  Arenado got as antsy as I did with my mouse after seeing that pitch!  1-2 is 95 on the outside edge fouled off, then Paxton’s first cutter at 88 skips in the dirt, 2-2.  But big curveball gets Arenado to chase with a pitch that hit home plate for Paxton’s first K:

Paxton-curveball-1

High change-up gets Carlos Gonzalez to chase and miss high in the zone, then Paxton drops in this curveball for strike 2:

Paxton-curveball-2

Dude, three GIFs already?!  Can you see why I get enamored with this guy?!  95 MPH fastball gets a mad late swing to spoil it – went 0-2 fastball and surprised Cargo – then curve in the dirt is way low and DJ steals second base.  He had that stolen too easily off a lefty there…  1-2 is a curve again that skips in – not the best past two pitches now – but a 2-2 curveball at 81 that mimics that 3rd GIF drops in there and Paxton gets Cargo looking.  Pretty nasty first inning minus the early walk.

Second Inning: 92 MPH fastball misses to Wilin Rosario to open the 2nd, fastball on the outside edge is fouled hard to right, Paxton pours a 93 MPH fastball in the zone 1-2, then just nastiness at 82 gets Rosario swinging:

Paxton-curveball-3

Later dawg!  I haven’t even GIFfed a fastball!  Cutter hits the outside edge to Justin Morneau, cutter again cuts off the outside corner ball one, 1-1 fastball is low, then 95 paints the outside corner at the knees for a bonus GIF #5 to make it 2-2:

Paxton-fastball

Curveball looked to get Morneau checking his swing but they rule he held up, then the payoff pitch is a curve in the zone that gets Morneau mad in front for a pop out to first base, two outs.  Young shortstop Cristhian Adames bunts the first pitch foul, then a nice curveball gets a routine grounder to short, but Ketel Marte boots it off the heel of his glove for a bad error.  Sigh.  Dustin Garneau steps in and takes a 93 MPH fastball for strike one, then a cutter off the outside edge is flared to center for a single.  That was out of the zone, but Garneau golfed it for a base hit.  Brandon Barnes takes a fastball for a ball, Pax drops in a cutter for a strike, 95 MPH fastball is in the dirt, then cutter again gets a pretty hard hit grounder, but it’s right to third for the final out.

Third Inning: Still a scoreless game and Paxton misses well outside with the fastball to Blackmon, and again is way out there, 2-0.  93 is in the zone, 95 outside, then 3-1 fastball that looked to have a lot of the low outside corner is called a ball for a questionable walk.  Leadoff runner at first, and LeMahieu takes a change-up well high, 1-0.  Blackmon is dancing around like crazy out there, he’s really going to try and get in Paxton’s head.  A few checks to first include one close one, then Pax grooves a quick-pitch 94 MPH fastball for strike one.  Nice to see there, but then 94 MPH again is two feet outside and almost a wild pitch.  Consistency issues…  94 MPH high in the zone is fouled off, 95 low and inside, Paxton hits 96 and it’s nipped foul, then payoff again is a 95 MPH fastball chopped to third, and Kyle Seager tried to turn the DP, but Blackmon was on the move and they only get the runner at first.  So Blackmon at second, one out, and Arenado takes inside.  Then a 1-0 curveball is both low, and Blackmon steals third.  Got a monster jump; both of the steals thus far haven’t been close.  But damn, 2-0 change-up gets Arenado crazy in front, a lot like that first GIF.  Then change again is rocketed to deep right, Seth Smith has it reaching up on the track, easily far enough to score Blackmon.  Well, run given up without giving up a hit this inning, but at least the bases are clear.  Paxton is high to Cargo, 94 paints the outside corner, 1-1 95 MPH fastball skips in there, change-up on the outside edge is fouled off, curveball skips into home plate at about 55 feet – awful slip there – but change-up in the zone gets Cargo to whiff, and Paxton is through the inning.

Fourth Inning: At 59 pitches, Paxton drops in a huge breaking ball and Rosario whiffs badly, 0-1.  Nasty.  But he goes curve again, it wasn’t an awful pitch just a bad selection, and Rosario goes down and gets it to deep center for a ground-rule double.  It wasn’t close to the quality of the first one, but it was dropping out of the zone.  Still…  Consistency issues…  Change-up is way high to Morneau, 94 is low, 93 well low, 3-0 count to a lefty.  Ugh.  94 barely catches the outside corner, and that looked like a ball to me, but then 3-1 is well low for Paxton’s third walk.  And the Mariners waste no time to pull Paxton early, who shows emotion for the first time in the whole start, frustrated they don’t leave him in.  A little odd the broadcast said he was going to get to 85-90 pitches and they yank him that early…  Then to add fuel to the fire, both of those runners ended up scoring, but with an error thrown in there to make one unearned.

Final Line:  L  3.0+ IP  66 Pitches (36 Strikes)  2 ER  2 Hits  3 Walks  4 K  Gamescore: 46  Gamescore+: 52.2

Final Analysis: Ya know, I was kinda hoping this would change my mind and have me off the Paxton gravy train.  But man his stuff looked good, and while he obviously had some consistency issues, this start was not nearly as bad as the line suggests.  The run in the 3rd scored without even giving up a hit, and it was a questionable ball 4 call that got the only runner on base.  Then the other two runs (only one of them earned), score after a really premature yanking…  If ya know what I mean…  The Gamescore+ unsurprisingly scores higher than his Gamescore due to more Ks than innings, and there’s no bonus for a deeper start in the Gamescore.  Gamescore+ generally scores higher in the shorter outings.

When you can build off a plus fastball it always helps, as Paxton was 93-95 MPH with the heater, hitting 95 frequently and topping out at 96.  The command was pretty solid, but as with all his pitches, his delivery can sometimes get funky and he loses his release point low.  But better to miss low than high!  Still, the 3 walks were no bueno.  Paxton builds off the fastball with a cutter that could be debated as a tiny slider, at 86-89 MPH with good run.  It seemed to work well yesterday, which is interesting since Fangraphs has him only throwing that pitch 2.7% of the time this year.  Then a solid change-up yesterday, but he did lose that pitch as the start went on leaving a few high.  Finally the bender, with a curveball at 80-82 MPH that can really fool hitters.  It’s a little different than most curves as it doesn’t have the same tight 12-6 break as say a Clayton Kershaw hook.  It’s actually a knuckle curve that tends to look like a slider at times – think of Craig Kimbrel‘s knuckle curve for example.  It featured a nice consistent break except on the Rosario double, but a few were well low in the dirt.  However, I do have one concern with that pitch.  When I was putting together the GIFs, here is a still image of the curveball GIFfed to Rosario:

Pax knuckle

Look how far that knuckle sticks out!  Obviously we’re looking at that pitch at the opposite angle and off-center, but seems to me that hitters might be able to see that beefy finger sticking out.  And it’s interesting Rosario got three straight curveballs – whiff for a K in the 2nd, whiff again first pitch in the 4th, then ground-rule double.  Just conjecture though…  Maybe hitters can eventually see that?

Would I feel safe starting Paxton in his next start at Texas?  Absolutely not.  But if searching for a streamer, he’s certainly in the discussion.  And his stuff looked as good as ever, and I haven’t seen anything to indicate he didn’t come out of this start healthy.  Lord help me, he’ll be a big sleeper for me again in 2016, especially if he looks like he can hold base-runners a little better as well.

 

Thoughts on my big Canadian lover Mr. Paxton?  And any other thoughts on pitchers down the stretch or keeper quandaries?  Shoot your thoughts below, and happy pitching Razzball Nation!

  1. Duda Want to Build a Snowman? says:
    (link)

    I’m right there with you with Pax. How can he not be amazing one of these years?! Supergreene!

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
      (link)

      @Duda Want to Build a Snowman?: Hah he is gonna make this happen! Unlike SuperGreene, I haven’t hopped off immediately!

  2. Eric B says:
    (link)

    I almost re-acquired Pax prior to yesterdays start but couldn’t decide who to cut so I held off, just didnt think he’d make a big enough impact for me while in the playoffs. Infact I still have Stroman on my DL for the same reason. I’d likely have to drop one of Polanco, Eaton or Baez and have held off because I’m unsure if he’ll get more starts.

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
      (link)

      @Eric B: Certainly will make more starts, but it was a solid decision to not use him right off the DL since he’s so fragile. But I do like him for 2-3 good starts to wrap it up here. Baez does look better than last year, but if he’s usually on your bench and you need those final pitching starts, I wouldn’t hesitate! But you can probably wait until Pax’s next start, not worth an immediate add or anything

      • Eric B says:
        (link)

        @JB Gilpin: Well I cant find room for both, and right now Im trailing after the 1st week 3-5-2, so not sure I’ll advance to worry about it lol. I know you like Pax but more than Stroman?

        • JB Gilpin

          JB Gilpin says:
          (link)

          @Eric B: Yeah I do, Stroman is solid and probably ranked a tad higher next year, but ROS I think I’d take Pax in even matchups

          • Eric B says:
            (link)

            @JB Gilpin: Thanks man, still trying to decide what to do lol. Stroman would have to be dropped or activated before I can make a move.
            5×5 12 Team HTH w/ OBP
            Bats
            C McCann
            1B Freeman
            2B Kipnis
            3B Sano
            SS Alexi Ramirez
            OF Pollock
            OF Calhoun
            OF Cepesedes
            OF Betts
            Util Springer
            Util Polanco
            Util 1B/3B Santana
            Bench OF Eaton
            Bench 2B/SS Baez
            DL Stanton

            Staff
            P Kluber
            P Cole
            P Bauer
            P Salazar
            P T. Walker
            SP Odorizzi
            SP Corbin
            RP Chapman
            RP Britton
            Bench RP Melancon
            Bench RP Miller
            Bench SP Lackey
            DL Stroman

            Getting beat in K’s, neck and neck in almost every category, up 10 RBI’s but every other cat is within 2-3 of being tied. I’m up 7-3 with 5 days to go.

            • JB Gilpin

              JB Gilpin says:
              (link)

              @Eric B: how far down in Ks are you? If a good bit I’d let Stroman walk and just focus on AB to get offensive stats

  3. PED Inc says:
    (link)

    Paxton is gonna be a boss! I’ve liked him a lot the last couple years, thanks for the write up on him bud!

    Need some help brother, I’m trying to put in my lineup for this week in a particular league and I’m having a hell of a hard time with who to slide in the last spot. This is a h2h redraft league and this is the first round of the playoffs. Who would you go with?
    My four for sure are
    Kershaw
    Greinke
    JoFer
    Scherzer

    My last will be one of these and I can’t make up my mind… A lot of upside with a lot of chance for disaster with these guys.

    Happ vs. ChC
    Salazar @ KC
    Tyson Ross @ Ari
    Severino @ TB
    Stroman @ Boston
    Who would you go with?

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
      (link)

      @PED Inc: Thanks so much for reading man! I really hope it’s next year!

      Whewwwwww that is a pickle. eesh, even off that miserable last outing and 3+ walks in what, 5 straight now (!?!?!!) I think I’m gonna take Severino. Rays really struggle v righties.

  4. Bryce Krispie Treats says:
    (link)

    JB, if you’ve got a moment to look into your crystal ball, id appreciate it!

    I have a bye week to start my playoff run (thanks in part to you guys!)

    Are there any two start pitchers for next week that I should have my eye on? Thanks!

    As always, love the stuff!

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
      (link)

      @Bryce Krispie Treats: Aight did a tiny bit of research for ya, and hope maybe these guys are available:

      Derek Holland – looks like he gets @OAK and @HOU. Pretty good starts, nice K potential.
      Jake Peavy – @SD @OAK, awesome parks obviously, less K potential but I think will be solid.
      deep alert! Adam Conley – v PHI v ATL. Can’t beat those matchups.

      And keep in mind schedules could obviously change and starts skipped, etc etc, but I think I have those potential matchups right for avail guys. Hope that helps!

  5. Grondcarlo says:
    (link)

    Hey JB, just got bounced soundly from the playoffs, and setting sights on next year. Going forward in a Keep-6, which would your rather, a 5th round deGrom, or a 25th round Darvish? I’ve loved owning Grom this year, and think he’ll probably go in the second or third next year in my league if I throw him back. Darvish, on the other hand, I don’t know what to make of…would appreciate your thoughts!

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
      (link)

      @Grondcarlo: Whewwwwwwww that’s a tough one! Of your other 6 keepers, how many are late round values? I think I’m gonna take the sure thing of deGrom either way, but if like 3-4 of your other keepers are later round picks like pick 8 on, definitely like deGrom even more since you have your top picks still. Nice problem to have! I think Darvish comes back strong once he’s back

      • Grondcarlo says:
        (link)

        @JB Gilpin: Thanks, man! I have Arrieta + Sano as definite late round keepers, and Stanton + Rizzo going up front in the first and fourth. At the moment at least, I feel pretty set with those 4. If deGrom is 5, then I have a bunch of decent late round (20+) options for the last spot: Darvish, Bogey, Puig, Gallo (OPS league), and Buxton. We pay a 2 rd/year penalty, so all of these guys would have good value for years, if that matters. I take it you would still go deGrom? He does feel like the safest of the bunch, which is strange to say of a second year guy! Now that I have them all out there, would you mind giving me your opinion on the last spot? Thanks!!

        • JB Gilpin

          JB Gilpin says:
          (link)

          @Grondcarlo: Yeah it makes it closer, luckily a beast like Rizzo in the 4th is sick then you still get 2nd and 3rd rd picks. Damn, I don’t love him, but Puig I think has to be that late round option. Pretty solid start on O then your ace in deGrom, would be a nice top 5. Any time!

  6. Manley Ramirez says:
    (link)

    This is great work and I too cannot quit Mr. Paxton.

    What do you make of C-Mart lately? Is he really tiring out or is it just a stretch of bad BABIP luck? You like him against your Brew Crew tomorrow?

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
      (link)

      @Manley Ramirez: Thanks so much man! I think tiring is a good guess. He hasn’t pitched nearly this many innings before. It’s a little risky, but my Crew have trouble against power righties, no Lucroy, no dangerous lefties except Lind sorta, I might risk the start

      • Manley Ramirez says:
        (link)

        @JB Gilpin: I did and he looks the best he has in a month…Originally wasn’t going to roll him out against the Cubs, but now I think I probably should.

        • JB Gilpin

          JB Gilpin says:
          (link)

          @Manley Ramirez: Yup, a righty heavy strikeout prone, bad offense will help a struggling pitcher haha. Glad I got that one right! I’d probably use him v. CHC too, but certainly there is a chance they skip him to save innings

          • Manley Ramirez says:
            (link)

            @JB Gilpin: Thing is Pirates have closed the gap so they might be less inclined to skip him before they clinch?…Cubs are also K prone but Fowler Rizzo and Schwarber are tough outs from the left side.

            • JB Gilpin

              JB Gilpin says:
              (link)

              @Manley Ramirez: Yeah if C Mart is getting the nod, I think you gotta play him

  7. luvdarooks says:
    (link)

    Does Heston get two starts in a week that goes from tonight to next monday??

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
      (link)

      @luvdarooks: If your league settings are M-Sunday then he wouldn’t I would guess. I would assume for this week it’s only the one start tonight.

  8. Tim says:
    (link)

    Thanks to you, Grey & the rest of Razzball, I made the semi’s in my H2H. In this week’s H2H playoff match I’m looking for streamers who will give me just 2-4 K’s & a chance at a W while keeping their ERA around 3.50 or lower and their WHIP 1.20 or lower. I can only stream 1 pitcher a day. Please rank your top 3 streamers from the following:

    Wednesday
    Peavy vCIN(Lorenzen)
    Chavez vOAK (Smaardja)

    Thursday
    Moore vBAL (Tillman)
    Quintana vOAK (Nolin)
    K. Hendricks @PIT (Morton)
    McCullers @TEX (Lewis)

    Friday
    Smyly vBAL (Chen)
    Matz vNYY (Pineda)
    Chen @TB (Smyly)
    Bolsinger vPIT (Locke)

    Saturday
    Iglesias @MIL(Jumgman)
    Corbin @SF (Leake)
    Gausman @TB (Ramirez)
    Stroman vBOS (Porcello)

    Sunday
    Medlin @DET (Boyd)

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
      (link)

      @Tim: Nice work man! I’ll give Grey 5%, me 1%, and you 110%… Wait, that doesn’t add up!

      I would want to add Igelsias, but he is at risk to be shut down before that start. So I’ll go 1 – Corbin 2 – Matz 3 – damn I’m at a toss up, I think I’ll lean Quintana

      • Tim says:
        (link)

        @JB Gilpin: Thanks AGAIN! Who was the toss up candidate vs Quintana?

        Also, if I could figure out a way to take 2 streamers on Friday where would Smyly rank among the 3 you picked?

        • JB Gilpin

          JB Gilpin says:
          (link)

          @Tim: Peavy and Smyly were my toss ups. Just don’t love the matchup and he’s been a smidge inconsistent. Peavy has been pretty solid, but the Ks might not even get to 2-4 like you were hoping for haha.

          So if Smyly could fit in with Matz? Still 4th but close, kinda like Quintana, throwing well past few in a good matchup

  9. JJ says:
    (link)

    Hey JB. Im looking to get an early jump on next weeks starting pitching. I am allowed 5 moves so maybe if you can give me your top 3 or 4 streamers.
    Monday
    J.A.Happ @ COL

    Tuesday
    T.Koehler vs PHI
    E.Santana vs CLE
    C.Heston @SD

    Wednesday
    A.Cashner vs SF
    J.Peavy @ SD
    D.Smyly @ BOS
    C.Lewis @ OAK
    A.Conley vs PHI

    Thursday
    W.Miley vs TB
    J.Paxton @ KC

    Saturday
    K.Gausman @ BOS
    A.Warren vs CWS
    K.Medlen vs CLE
    M.Shoemaker vs SEA

    Sunday
    E.Santana @ DET
    J.A.Happ @ CHC
    C.Heston @ OAK

    Let me know what you think
    Thanks

    • JJ says:
      (link)

      @JJ:
      Add Niese vs ATL on Mon and Fiers vs LAA on wed as well

      • JB Gilpin

        JB Gilpin says:
        (link)

        @JJ: Yo! Well, hate that first Happ matchup! And he’s been sooooo good. But the one v Cubs is #1

        It’s super risky, but I like Conley. That’s maybe 4th behind Peavy and Cashner. So those would be my top 4

        • JJ says:
          (link)

          @JB Gilpin:
          Looks like Happ isn’t even making the second start this week so I guess that he is a drop in your mind. I actually have Smyly and Happ on my roster right now.

          • JB Gilpin

            JB Gilpin says:
            (link)

            @JJ: Ah yeah I would let Happ go. Smyly is a little iffy too, as the Rays could limit him the final few weeks here

Comments are closed.