Stash ‘Em or Trash ‘Em: Now On The DL, Is James Paxton Worth Keeping?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

James Paxton recently hit the DL due to a strained tendon in his middle finger. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, at this point there is no set timetable for his return. According to Doug Miller of MLB.com:

“Paxton, who strained a tendon in the finger of his pitching hand while throwing a ball to Brandon Moss in his start on Thursday night at Safeco Field, will be shut down from any throwing for two weeks and then re-evaluated. An MRI exam confirmed the strain, and the Mariners placed Paxton on the 15-day disabled list on Friday.”

Even if he’s cleared in two weeks he will need time rehabbing and could close in on the All-Star game as well. That means he could be out until mid-July, assuming he’s healthy and ready to throw two weeks from today. If he’s not? His time without throwing increases as does the likely rehab time that’s needed to get back on the mound. So the question facing fantasy owners is if he’s worth keeping stashed on the bench or not.

He owns a 3.70 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 6.94 K/9 and 3.39 BB/9 over his first 10 starts. He had been pitching better, of late, though overall the following concerns remain:

  • Limited strikeout potential (6.6% SwStr%, 22.3% O-Swing%)
  • Line drives should rise (15.5%)
  • Groundballs are down (48.6%)
  • Becoming too dependent on his fastball (72.2%)

Even more of a red flag is that as he was pitching better in May (1.99 ERA), his strikeouts (5.40 K/9) and groundballs (45.8%) were down while his walks were up (3.98 BB/9). So far it’s sounding like a tough player to hang onto.

It becomes even tougher, considering we had legitimate concerns entering the season. Here’s our writeup on him from Rotoprofessor’s 2015 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide:

“Paxton has had great success in the Majors over the past two seasons (2.66 ERA, 1.13 WHIP over 98.0 IP). However he’s hardly a lock to open the season in the rotation, given the depth the team has, and he’s also benefited from a lot of luck (last season’s .270 BABIP, despite a 22.6% line drive rate). He has a history of control issues (4.05 BB/9 since ’11), has not generated strikeouts in the Majors (7.35 K/9 courtesy of an 8.2% SwStr%) and may not be able to maintain the groundball rate he showed last season (54.8%). There’s upside, but also a lot of risk so we wouldn’t consider him a must own pitcher.”

In other words, despite pitching well in May all of our concerns have been seen (and a further regression could be there). Outside of those in dynasty leagues (or the deepest of other leagues), he doesn’t appear to be a pitcher worth stashing.

Verdict – Trash ‘Em

Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com

5 comments

  1. Big Papi says:

    Professor – You’ve convinced me to drop Paxton but for who? These guys are available:
    Miguel Gonzales, Ubaldo, Colby Lewis, Joe Kelly, Travis Wood, Danks, Eovaldi, May, DeSclafani, Hellickson, Folty, Niese

  2. Beans says:

    M. Franco or Ortiz as a DH this week? Ortiz is killing me man. I can’t move him and can’t drop him either. I’m starting to think he is at the end of his run…thank god because I hate him. ( I’m a yankee fan)

  3. Rotoprofessor says:

    Big Papi – I’d grab Folty of that group

    Beans – I’d probably stick with Ortiz, but it honestly could go either way at this point

  4. Adam says:

    Hey RP, I’ve got two questions:
    1) Who’s side do you prefer, Brian McCann/Springer/Tolleson/Salazar or Altuve/Samardzija?
    2) Whats your ROS outlook for Matt Moore? Is he worth stashing in a 12-team H2H points league?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      1) Need is a factor but I’d probably lean Springer side (but could argue other way)
      2) Not for me. Control always question and even more now

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