New York Yankees: Three key takeaways from a great first half

DJ LeMahieu, New York Yankees. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
DJ LeMahieu, New York Yankees. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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New York Yankees
James Paxton, New York Yankees. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

James Paxton is not what we thought he would be (but he still has time to be)

Call me crazy, but I don’t think the Yankees should be looking for ANOTHER Starting Pitcher. The only reason is because of the underwhelming return in production they’ve gotten from James Paxton.

Overall, it hasn’t been atrocious from the lefty, but for what the Yankees had to give up for him, I’m starting to question whether he was legitimately worth it. This season, Paxton has a 4.01 ERA and has found trouble within the first few innings of games. In the first inning this season, he’s posted a 10.21 ERA, but after that, he calms down significantly. Not precisely the Luis Severino, Ace type of replacement that the Yankees were looking for, but there’s still plenty of hope.

Not every player is going into the All-Star break red hot. The only thing that some struggling players need going into the second half of the season is to take a little bit of a breather. Hit the reset button, some might say. For Paxton, he has the opportunity to lead this Yankees rotation to a World Series title. When Severino comes back, they could also be the best 1-2 punch starters in Major League Baseball, but how does it get to that point? How can the Yankees pull him out of his first-inning funk and get the absolute best out of their fully capable pitcher? Well, you could always bring in an opener for Paxton. Let a guy like Chad Green (who has proven to be lights out as an opener) come in for an inning or two to ease Paxton into the ball game. That way, he may not have to worry as much about opening a game because he knows that’s been his weakness this season. It could be a weight lifted off of his shoulders, and he could be dominant after that change. In case it doesn’t work out that way, it could just be a matter of giving him some time.

I’ve said this from time to time. Not every Pitcher can go from Seattle to the bright lights of New York and expect to be the same. People don’t perform the same right off the bat during their first season as a Yankee because it’s a lot of pressure. Sometimes, you have to let the player find their groove, and it might take longer than others. Take a guy like Sonny Gray, for example. He’s a guy who was never able to overcome the pressure of pitching in Yankee Stadium and could never find his groove at a home game. When he was in Yankee Stadium during the 2018 season, he had a 6.98 ERA with a 4-4 record. When pitching away that season, he was completely different. He threw for a 3.17 ERA with a 7-5 record.

I’ll preface this by saying that I think Paxton is a much better pitcher than Gray and this is only one example of the worst thing that can happen, but it’s always possible that New York isn’t the place for him. However, Yankee fans should just let this season and next season play out before they jump to anything conclusive. I think he’ll be fine but show patience, fans. It’ll come.