SATURDAY: James Paxton has been placed on the 10-day IL, per the team (via Twitter). Jake Barrett will be recalled to take Paxton’s roster spot. While no MRI results have been released, Paxton expressed frustration more than concern when questioned about the pain in his left knee, per MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch.
The move comes after the Yankee southpaw was pulled from his start yesterday after just three innings. Paxton’s velocity readings did dip a bit during a long third inning, though he still hit 95-96 in his final frame of action. There’s no reason at present to be particularly concerned, though it’s never great to see a key rotation piece leave with any kind of health concern. In Paxton’s case, he has had arm problems in recent years, though that’s not implicated here. The knee joint hasn’t been an issue of late, but it was noted as an issue during his amateur days.
Paxton’s main concern stems from the affect the knee was having on his mechanics. The discomfort was causing him to occasionally open up his motion early, shifting his weight off his back leg – which would certainly account for a dip in velocity. Paxton has been treating the knee with ice, laser treatments and range of motion exercises, and there’s no reason at this time to think Paxton would be unable to continue this strategy moving forward. It’s certainly something to monitor, as Paxton is a critical piece of the New York rotation, going 3-2 so far with a 3.11 ERA and 12.4 K/9.
The Yankees have awaited many an MRI this year, so this is a familiar position for the club. While the position-player side of the roster has been hit hardest, the team lost Luis Severino for a significant stretch and was already missing Tommy John rehabber Jordan Montgomery.
The depth has been up to the task thus far. Jonathan Loaisiga could still be called upon to fill in Paxton’s rotation spot, though Barrett joins the club for now. Barrett, 27, carries a career 4.03 ERA in 103 games with the Diamondbacks, though the most substantial chunk of that came in 68 appearances in 2016. That season, Barrett managed a 3.49 ERA (4.14 FIP) across 59 1/3 innings. He took a circuitous route to New York this winter. The Giants bought his contract from Arizona, but then lost him on waivers to the Pirates, who lost him to the Yankees. He does have an option remaining.