Cervelli is useful, but don't get used to him

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There’s some talk that Jorge Posada is contributing to the Yankees’ pitching woes:

One unsettling fact for the Yankees is the difference when
Jorge Posada catches. With Posada behind the plate, the Yankees’
pitchers have a 6.31 E.R.A. The combined E.R.A. with Francisco
Cervelli, Jose Molina and Kevin Cash is 3.81 . . . Posada, 37, has
handled many exceptional pitchers in his career. Although some, like
Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina, have preferred other catchers, Posada
does not have to apologize for his resume. Posada takes his job
seriously and is an emotional engine of the team.

Yet
Burnett, in particular, seems to struggle with him. In Burnett’s four
starts pitching to Posada, opponents have batted .330. In nine starts
with the other catchers, the average is .223.

This not just media
chatter on a day off, as Burnett himself is on record questioning
Posada’s pitch selection, albeit in somewhat diplomatic terms.

Not
that any of this matters, because there are two numbers that are going
to determine who catches for the Yankees going forward. The first is
.940, which is Posada’s current OPS, and which more than makes up for
whatever impact his pitch choices have on his starters’ ERA. The second
is 1, which is the number of minor league options Francisco Cervelli
has left, meaning that when Jose Molina comes back from the DL,
Cervelli will most likely be enhancing the ERAs of the Scranton-Wilkes
Barre pitching staff, not the one in New York.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.