After being the prized acquisition of the offseason, James Paxton has fought through a rough start to have a solid first year in the Bronx.
James Paxton has had an up and down year for the Yankees. When he first started pitching he was almost untouchable. Having several games with double-digit strikeouts and who can forget his first big Yankee moment, when he shut down the Red Sox for eight innings. But then came a start against Minnesota at home where he hurt his push-off knee.
From there, his season went downhill and he was struggling to find his fastball velocity and was getting hammered almost every start. Don’t forget his streak of allowing first-inning runs. But since the trade deadline James Paxton has been one of the Yankees best pitchers. In his last eight starts, Paxton is 8-0 with a 2.57 ERA while striking out 58 batters. Here are two reasons why James Paxton has turned his season around.
Fastball Velo is back
When James Paxton pitched early in the season his fastball was sitting around 96-99, it was almost untouchable as he was always hitting the glove. But when he came back from his injury he couldn’t get that fastball back up to the upper 90’s.
He was hovering around 92-95 and his cutter/slider wasn’t slowing down so the speed difference wasn’t as much. This caused a lot of hitters to start to tee of Paxton. But in his last 8 starts that fastball is back up to the upper 90’s. But what really has made Paxton so good lately is his increased usage of his curveball.
Throwing the curve more
James Paxton really was starting to struggle in the summer months of June and July. In July he was throwing the curve at a season-low 12.8%. In June he had an ERA of 7.15 and in July he had an ERA of 5.68. So in August, Paxton increased the usage to 24.1%. In 6 starts in August, Paxton went 6-0 with a 3.57 ERA while striking out 39 batters in 35 innings.
In September, he has decided to throw it a bit more at 29.7% and it has paid off. In 2 starts in September, Paxton is 2-0(2 starts) and has not allowed a single run in 13.2 innings and has struck out 19 batters. Throwing the curve more gives the hitter another pitch to think about and puts Paxton another step ahead of them.
If Paxton continues to throw like this then we will be even better for the playoffs.