Mariners’ James Paxton likely to need Tommy John surgery, per report

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Mariners left-handed starter James Paxton was forced to leave his start on Tuesday after just 21 pitches, and it did not look good. He was squeezing his hand on the mound with an extended arm with a lot of times means an elbow issue. Sure enough, it’s been recommended to him that he undergo Tommy John surgery, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network

Such a procedure would end Paxton’s 2021 season on the spot. Since he was on a one-year deal, Paxton would head to 2022 as a free agent, likely looking to sign with a team who could have some patience before giving him a shot at a rotation spot around the middle of the season. 

Paxton, 32, has always flashed big upside when on the mound, but he’s also battled injuries through much of his MLB career. His career-high in starts in a season is 29 and his top mark in innings pitched is 160 1/3. He’s never had Tommy John surgery, though. 

Paxton was drafted and developed by the Mariners and pitched his first seven MLB seasons with the club, going 41-26 with a 3.42 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 619 strikeouts in 583 2/3 innings from 2013-18. Prior to the 2019 season, he was traded to the Yankees as a big-ticket acquisition. He was 15-6 with a 3.82 ERA (119 ERA+) and 186 strikeouts in 150 2/3 innings that year. He managed just five starts and a 6.64 ERA for the Yankees last season before coming back to Seattle on a free agent deal this past offseason. 

Without Paxton, the Mariners’ current rotation features Marco Gonzales, Yusei Kikuchi, Chris Flexen, Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn

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