James Paxton of the Seattle Mariners looks to make an impact not only with his team this season, but around the league as well. Coming into the year, glimpses of greatness have flashed from this young lefty’s arm, only to come up short due to injuries. However, this year seems different only after a few starts. Looking at his pitching strictly from a viewer’s opinion, one can tell that this is a different pitcher than other’s have seen in the past few years. Paxton’s pitches look crisper, he is mixing his pitches well, and the added skill of throwing the inside fastball to both left-handed and right-handed hitters is devastating when it is coming in just below 100 MPH. His aura on the mound is different this year as well. Gone is the sheepish look of a man trying to prove to himself and others that he belongs, and replacing it is a strong-willed demeanor.
Not only has his presence altered in the early stages of this year, but also the numbers posted by Paxton are trending in a positive direction. Through his first four starts, Paxton has thrown 25.1 innings, boasts a 1.78 ERA with a strikeout to walk ratio of 30/5. Batters have also posted only a meager .173 batting average off of Paxton who has allowed 17 hits in 90 at-bats through his first four starts. Now, let us do some math here in the hope that Paxton stays healthy throughout the entire season and posts the average starts he should (which is 32). His line at the end of the year would read as such:
Around 202 Innings pitched, 6/1 strikeout to walk ratio, while only giving up 136 hits in 720 plate appearances
Obviously, his 1.78 ERA will not remain as such throughout the year as it is mathematically improbable, and with the inconsistency of the Seattle Mariners offense what it is, it is hard to tell how many wins he will accrue throughout this year’s campaign. Those numbers are up for debate as of now, but with the way the season is unfolding, it is not absurd to think that Paxton may hover around a 2.25 ERA with more than 16 wins on the year. As of this moment, Paxton is in the top-ten pitchers throughout the league in WAR (Wins Above Replacement), ERA, strikeouts, and even leads the league in wild pitches.
As of now, James Paxton is considered the a top pitcher in the American League, and maybe even the MLB, but time will only tell if this spark of greatness can turn into a full-fledged flame.