We mentioned Jamie Moyer’s throwing sessions for scouts the other day. Today Ken Rosenthal has some more on that, having spoken to some scouts. The verdict from a scout:
“Same as he’s been for the past 15 years — as incredible as that may sound. He has a chance to pitch in the big leagues as a fifth starter and win 10 or 12 games. He’s throwing 81 to 83 miles an hour, but he still knows how to make you look like an idiot. He doesn’t need the money. But I think he has that fire burning in his belly.”
Rosenthal says several teams have sent scouts to watch him throw, but that the interest in Moyer is likely to be concentrated on the west coast, with teams in pitcher-friendly parks like San Diego, Seattle, Anaheim and places like that the most likely to take a chance on the 49-year-old lefty.
Only thing that gives me pause is that the usual path back for a Tommy John surgery recipient is to have his velocity — such as it is in Moyer’s case — return before his command and touch. Moyer is all about command and touch. Has been since Clinton’s first term. If there’s even a slight problem with that when he takes the hill in a game situation, it’s gonna look like batting practice.
But hey, if the scouts are saying good things now, you probably have to take their word for it.
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.