Brett Tomko, on being designated for assignment by the Yankees:
I don’t think I got a fair shot. I pitched great in spring training
and didn’t make the team. I pitched great in the minors, got called up
and didn’t get much of a chance. I understand other guys are pitching
great. But it could have been different. I can’t see the point in
Obviously no one likes to be fired and I’m sure that Tomko wasn’t used
optimally by the Yankees, but the notion of “a fair shot” sort of goes
out the window when talking about a 36-year-old pitcher with nearly
1,800 career innings in the majors. Plus, who cares if someone “pitched
great in spring training” and “pitched great in the minors” if they’ve
posted a better-than-average ERA exactly once in the last dozen
Tomko has earned over $20 million despite being a mediocre back-of-the-rotation starter or long reliever for his entire career,
the Yankees called him up in May and used him as a mop-up man for six
weeks, he allowed 12 runs in 21 innings to make him 7-21 with a 5.76
ERA over the past three seasons, and now they’re letting him go. “But
it could have been different” is just about the least accurate way to
describe the situation.
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.