While most of the Mariners in big-league camp enjoyed their first day off of spring training on Tuesday, James Paxton made a start in a minor-league game. He threw five innings, gave up two runs on four hits, walked one and struck out eight.
Coming on the heels of an outing against Oakland in which Paxton failed to get out of the third inning – which left manager Scott Servais admittedly a little disappointed – this looked like a step in the right direction regardless of the competition he was facing.
Paxton started strong with six strikeouts in his first three innings but did struggle a bit with command in the fourth and fifth. Still, he was able to limit his innings to 15 pitches or fewer and his breaking ball, which has been slow to come along in camp, was sharp.
“It felt really good,” he said of the curveball. “I was getting out front with it and got that tight spin back and swings and misses today.”
In addition to the better curve, his velocity ticked up. While he said he wasn’t worried about the mostly 90-91 mph we saw in his first few spring outings, the 93-94 on the fastball was good to see.
“I think that definitely reaching more towards the middle a little bit more and getting that extension has helped my fastball velocity because it is forcing me to get through the ball more,” Paxton said. “Right now you try to ramp it up a little, but you get that big adrenaline when you get out under the lights and get everything started.”
Paxton is scheduled to make two more starts before the regular season begins.