With Added Depth, Mets Should Take a Shot with James Paxton

Andy Martino reported that the Mets have ongoing discussions with free agent RHP Jake Arrieta. Earlier I wrote an article that the Mets should stay away from Arrieta, but there is hope. Martino also reported, that the Mets have some interest in James Paxton, who I think the Mets should take a chance on, after other moves were made this offseason.

If you asked me a couple of months ago, if the Mets should sign Paxton, I probably would’ve answered with a no. I wanted the Mets to add starters with less risk of injuries, and a durable arm. Since then, the Mets traded for Carlos Carrasco, Joey Lucchesi and Jordan Yamamoto.

The main addition was Carlos Carrasco, who has been a very good starter. He is slated to be our number three in the starting rotation. With that, the Mets are now able to take a pitcher with a little more injury risk, aka James Paxton. When healthy, Paxton is a good pitcher and you could get him as a clear bargain if he is healthy.

In 2020, Paxton pitched just 20.1 innings due to injuries. When he was on the mound, he wasn’t effective, pitching to a 6.61 ERA. His WHIP was pretty high, but his expected ERA was acceptable in limited time. He didn’t lose his strikeout stuff as he struck out 26 in that span.

Baseball savant

What’s noticeable was that his velocity dropped, however it could be related to injuries. It’s good to see him retaining his whiff percentage and K%. His exit velo isn’t a concern to me, because he features solid run prevention in his career with allowing hard hit contact.

From 2013-2019 Paxton has been one of the better arms when healthy. Over 733 innings (yes that isn’t much over 6 years) he has pitched to a 3.50 ERA, with a 1.20 WHIP, 117 ERA+ and a 9.9 strikeout per walk rate.

In his last full season in 2019, pitching for the Yankees, he was solid with a 3.82 ERA and 11.1 strikeouts per nine. Again, his hard hit rates and spin rates weren’t great but his expected numbers were very good.

Baseball savant

Paxton has a strong arsenal with solid results among all pitches. He features a 4 seam fastball, curve, cutter and change. In the graphic below, you’ll see his expected slashline per pitch.

Baseball savant

His cutter has the least amount of running value as he combined negative 8 in run value. Fact is that he threw it less, however his slash line against that pitch is not terrible.

His curve on the other hand has been a plus. Over the last two seasons, he combined a positive 9 run value on that pitch. It was mostly because of his 2019 season, where he was 14th in baseball in Curve Run Value at 8.

To me it’s clear that Paxton has the most upside and in my opinion the Mets have a shot to go for upside over certainty. If you want to take a shot at Arrieta, why not go for the better upside in Paxton?

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