The 2019 season was the last time that baseball fans have seen a fully healthy James Paxton. After injuries killed his 2021 and 2022 campaigns, the big Canadian left-hander made his first start in almost two calendar years on March 3. While Paxton did show some promise in his first outing back, it did end on a sour note for both him and the Sox.
A Look at Paxton
Friday marked Red Sox LHP James Paxton‘s first game action in almost two years. It went well from a statistical standpoint, as the lefty earned the win in a 9-4 victory against the Twins. Paxton went 1.2 IP, and did not allow a walk or hit and struck out one. Not to mention, Paxton was flirting in the mid-90s with his heater, near where it was back in 2019.
However, Paxton could not finish the second inning. A hamstring injury forced the Red Sox to pull him from the game. As of this writing, the severity of the injury is unknown.
What it Means
The good news for the Red Sox is that the hamstring injury doesn’t appear to be too serious. Paxton said after the game that he only tweaked it, but Boston will obviously need to be careful with Paxton. In fact, manager Alex Cora stated after the game that the Sox will need to do that, given a lengthy injury history.
As we mentioned last month in our preview of the Red Sox rotation, Paxton’s last pitch in a MLB game came in April 2021. That was as a member of the New York Yankees. Paxton spent all of 2022 on the IL with Boston recovering from UCL reconstruction surgery and a separate lat tear, but could slot into the rotation if he can stay healthy. Boston does have a plethora of youngsters that could take the reigns of multiple spots in the rotation — depending on the health of Garrett Whitlock‘s hip — like Brayan Bello and Tanner Houck. On the other hand, an experienced vet like Paxton has proven to be very effective when on the mound, thanks in large part to a powerful fastball, cutter, and a wicked curveball.
For right now, though, Boston will need to wait to see how Paxton’s hamstring feels over the coming days.