After spending the past six seasons with the Mariners, Paxton will don the pinstripes in 2019, forming a lethal 1-2 punch at the top of the Yankee rotation with righty Luis Severino . When on the mound, Paxton has been as dominant as they come for the Mariners, posting high strikeout rates and being one of the best pitchers on a per-inning basis. While his 3.76 ERA was a steep regression from his 2.98 mark in 2017, his FIP of 3.24 last season indicates that he was better than his ERA showed. Furthermore, his xFIP was 3.02, further highlighting that Paxton’s individual performance on the mound wasn’t indicative of a pitcher with a 3.76 ERA.

It’s crazy to think a six-year starter with 41 career wins and a career-high of 12 wins in a season (2017) is currently being drafted as the 17th pitcher and pick 55 overall, per NFBC at time of writing. For what it’s worth, Miguel González , Scott Kazmir , Wei-Yin Chen and Jered Weaver have more wins than Paxton since the start of the 2013 season. However, it is the same number of wins as Yu Darvish , Aaron Nola and Luis Severino , but still. His potential upside with the Yankees is immense, as the Yankees offense far exceeds the firepower of the Seattle offense Paxton had backing him in recent years. Sure, Seattle didn’t boast a horrible offense, but it certainly does not compare to a New York lineup featuring Aaron Judge , Giancarlo Stanton , Gleyber Torres and Gary Sánchez . He should be able to pick up a few extra wins thanks to a strong offense.

Paxton posted a career high in K/9 (11.68) last season, striking out 208 batters in just 160.1 innings of work. It’s not an understatement to say that Paxton’s fantasy appeal primarily comes from his elite strikeout potential and the fact that he has the ability to end the year as a top-seven starting pitcher. His whiff percentage has increased every season since 2015 and he forced opponents to a chase percentage of 32.1 percent last season, per Baseball Savant. There are a few inhibitors to reaching that potential, and we will get to those factors later.

While he has five pitches at his disposal, he primarily operates off three pitches, which are his fastball, a curveball and a cutter that have dominated opposing hitters, especially over the past two seasons.





















When Paxton gets the count to two strikes, he’s been practically unhittable, holding the opposition to a batting average of .143 when their back is up against the wall.

With all of this in mind, why is Paxton not being drafted inside the top-10 starting pitchers on draft day? He’s received Cy Young consideration in recent years, but is being drafted around the same time as guys like Patrick Corbin and Jameson Taillon . Paxton’s talent is indicative of a top 10 starter, but his injury history is concerning and eats into potential fantasy production.

Since 2014, here is a breakdown of various injuries that sent Paxton to the disabled list:




Left lat strain


Strained tendon in left middle finger


Left elbow contusion


Strained left forearm, strained left pec


Lower back inflammation, left forearm contusion

The injuries are piling up and while the contusions aren’t necessarily worrisome long term, the strained forearm, strained pec, and back inflammation are things that could pop up again down the line. Because of his injuries, Paxton has yet to throw more than 165 innings in a single season at the big league level in his entire career. He’s eclipsed that mark in a season or two if you add in minor league innings that year, but restricting the criteria to the game’s highest level, last season’s 160.1 innings pitched is a career high.

Last season, when he wasn’t striking batters out, it was more often than not a fly ball coming off the bat of the opposing hitter. His ground ball rate has declined every season since entering the big leagues and his fly ball rate has increased every season for the year prior except for one (2016). Furthermore, he allowed hard contact about one-third of the time since the start of the 2016 season.

What exactly does this mean for Paxton in 2019? It means that we could see a similar HR/9 of last year (1.29), compared to the sub 0.70 marks he posted in 2017 and 2016. Simply put, allowing hard contact in the air at Yankee Stadium is going to create some problems. Per ESPN’s MLB Park Factors, Yankee Stadium posted the sixth-highest park factor for home runs. Paxton’s old home stadium came in at 15th, so it is a park downgrade for Paxton. The home runs jumped last year for Paxton in a neutral stadium, and he may be slightly exposed in the unfriendly confines of his new home park.

Paxton is one of the game’s best pitchers on a per-inning basis, but a lengthy injury history consistently eats into potential fantasy production. When he’s on the mound, he’ll deliver excellent fantasy production and well over a strikeout per inning, but the inevitable trip to the disabled list is looming.

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