New York Yankees: James Paxton named a sleeper AL Cy Young candidate

New York Yankees. James Paxton (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
New York Yankees. James Paxton (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

If there is one thing the New York Yankees did early on this offseason it was trading for pitcher James Paxton and bolstering their rotation. But, just how high is Paxton’s ceiling in the Bronx?

The New York Yankees traded for James Paxton so early on in the offseason, it almost seems forgotten that they even have him. If you throw in the lingering will he come, will he not Manny Machado drama, then Paxton has been put on the back burner.

Well, much like Robinson Cano could be for the Mets, James Paxton could be for the Yankees. Paxton could be in for a huge season in his new environment. He could wind up being the biggest move the Yankees made this offseason.

In fact, Paxton is set up to succeed for many reasons.

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To start, last season, the Yankees scored the second most runs in baseball. Paxton’s old team the Mariners, scored the 21st most runs in baseball.

Despite that, Paxton won 11 games. Also as a product of it, he lost six games. His 3.76 ERA last season is although not ideal, more of a liability on a team that doesn’t score runs. Even three runs a game this year might be solid enough for the Yankees to be in every games he pitches.

But, a better team around him and being in a more ideal situation is not even why Paxton could be a sleeper Cy Young pick.

Here is what Matt Kelly had to say about Paxton for the 2019 season via

"Paxton won’t need to carry a rotation like he did in Seattle, and narrative will be on his side if he comes to the Bronx and helps the Yankees take back the AL East. The southpaw’s arsenal is unassailable: Few pitchers in the game get as many whiffs on fastballs, his curve consistently yields grounders and hitters are now whiffing half the time against his cutter. Paxton gave up too many homers last year, and his health is always a concern. But this is a big-time pitcher who should be highly motivated to win over a discerning new fanbase.”"

Kelly raises many solid points here.

The biggest thing is just less pressure. He is not going to have to be the number one guy this season, it is a more balanced work load for a player who quite frankly might not be able to handle it.

Instead of being a pitcher who starts with a guy like the aging Felix Hernandez, he will have pitchers like Luis Severino, J.A. Happ, and Masahiro Tanaka to help. Then the always reliable C.C. Sabathia.

But, what is interesting is the analytical approach to his game. Yankee Stadium is not exactly pitcher friendly, so if he uses his ability to not have player make contact, he could breakout.

Evert pitcher’s goal should be to give up less home runs so, that is just par for the course.

While Paxton does not have much experience playing in the AL East, his numbers against them are not too alarming.

He almost owns the Blue Jays having thrown a no-hitter against them and having a .500 record.

But, the real catch here is he is solid against the Red Sox. He is 2-0 against the Red Sox and has an ERA against them under 3.0.

He is also 3-0 against the Rays and 2-0 against the Baltimore Orioles.

And while Paxton’s numbers against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium are not that great, having an ERA over seven, that could be more the exception than the rule. He needs more starts there to get a fairer sample size.

Now, I do not totally agree that Paxton will be a sleeper Cy Young candidate, and there are a lot of what-ifs with him and not enough of what-is, but Paxton could be capable of winning a lot of games for the Yankees.

He has never played in the postseason for the Mariners have never made it while he was there, However, he could be peaking at the right time and use that into October.

He is coming off his two best seasons of his career and just last season pitched the most innings of his career with 160. In total, he has been out there for over 100 career starts and over 500 innings.

Meaning, the Yankees could be getting a workhorse in Paxton who is just about ready to hit his prime and be the most impactful he ever has.

The James Paxton trade was for sure an interesting one, but at the end of the day it was made to win now. The Yanks gave up prospects to get him.

Meaning, the Yanks probably think the same thing myself and Kelly think.That Paxton could be in for a solid season.

The team is much better around him than the ones he had in the past and he is coming off a season in which he could improve upon.

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While I do not recommend going out and betting all your money on Paxton to win the Cy Young, it is not as ridiculous to think that the Yankees could end up getting more than they bargained for in this deal.