The Yankees: the worst case scenario Part II

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On Tuesday Andrew from NYaT imagined what it would look like if every bat in the Yankee lineup went sideways.  Yesterday he moved on to the pitchers:

CC Sabathia: What it would look like: Alex Fernandez after Marlins won the 1997 World Series. In December of 1996,
the Florida Marlins General Manager Dave Dombrowski brought a big free
agent starter to the Marlins in Alex Fernandez. In his last year in
Chicago (where he was a workhorse), Fernandez made 35 starts, pitching
258 innings, and in his first season in Florida, he pitched 220.2
innings plus the playoffs. The Marlins won their World Series but
Fernandez couldn’t handle the pressure on his arm. He missed the 1998
season, and, despite winning Comeback Player of the Year in 1999, he was out of baseball after 2000.

Andrew then proceeds to run down just how much mileage is on CC’s arm.  It’s a lot. More than I realized, actually.  I’d be more worried about it if Sabathia wasn’t freakin’ huge, however, which I suspect allows him to do things most other pitchers can’t. But like Andrew says, this is an exercise in imagining the worst, so let’s allow our imaginations to run free, shall we?

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.