When you’re a new player on the Yankees roster, there is one thing that can make you a fan favorite instantly, and that thing is to play well against the long-time Yankees rivals the Boston Red Sox.
On April 16th, Yankees left-handed pitcher James Paxton did just that.
Over the course of his career, Big Maple has dominated the Red Sox. Before this season, Paxton was 2-0 with a 2.49 ERA, 0.908 WHIP, 22 strikeouts and three walks in four career starts against the Red Sox. With a stellar Yankees-Red Sox rivalry debut at Yankee Stadium, Paxton proved that he could continue his domination in pinstripes.
Paxton hurled eight shutout innings against the Red Sox in the opening game of the two-game series, which the Yankees swept, giving up just two hits and one walk in the most dominant start of his short Yankee career.
A comeback start was exactly what Paxton needed, after giving up nine runs in nine and third innings pitched in his last two starts. After retiring the first nine Red Sox, Paxton got into a jam with runners on second and third with no outs in the fourth. He made the next two batters hit shallow fly-outs to Aaron Judge and struck out Mitch Moreland to end the inning. After that, it was smooth sailing for Paxton.
Before this start, no Yankee had pitched seven innings this year, and Paxton was still pumping 97-99 miles per hour in the eighth inning.
In his final at-bat, James Paxton threw six fastballs to Mookie Betts: 97, 97, 97, 99, 98, 97.
This is the Paxton for whom the Yankees traded this winter. He looked like a guy who could start Game 1 of a playoff series. Eight shutout innings, 12 strikeouts, suffocated Boston.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 17, 2019
Paxton was shutting down the Red Sox lineup and dominated reigning American League MVP Mookie Betts in his last at-bat of the game, as shown in the tweet by ESPN MLB Insider Jeff Passan.
This is the type of start that the Yankees need from their rotation more often than not. Before Paxton’s start against the Red Sox, the two pitchers who needed to step up were both Paxton and J.A. Happ, who started the second and last game of the two-game series against Boston.
Happ followed up Paxton with a quality start of his own, pitching six and third innings and giving up three runs to the Red Sox, before handing the ball to Tommy Kahnle, who eventually got the win. Paxton paved the way for Happ, laying out the framework of the type of start the Yankees need for the rest of the pitchers to follow.
Yankees’ Ace Luis Severino is still battling his Grade 2 lat strain and will be for quite some time, most likely not returning to the rotation until July at the earliest.
With Severino out of the Yankees’ rotation for the foreseeable future, the Yankees need all the help they can possibly get from the healthy starters.
Featured Image: Lynne Sladky - Associated Press