On the disabled list since April with a shoulder injury, Mariners rookie James Paxton is finished with a minor-league rehab assignment and ready to rejoin the rotation.
Paxton is scheduled to start Saturday against the Orioles in what will be his first MLB game action since April 8.
Coming into the season the Mariners thought they’d be able to add promising prospects Paxton and Taijuan Walker to a rotation headlined by Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, but after two-thirds of the year Paxton and Walker have combined to make just five starts between them.
Paxton has begun his career by going 5-0 with a 1.75 ERA in six starts dating back to last season’s debut and the 25-year-old left-hander convinced the Mariners he was ready to return by posting a 4.35 ERA and 14/6 K/BB ratio in three rehab starts.
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Mets manager Terry Collins says that he has scratched Noah Syndergaard, who was supposed to start this afternoon’s game against the Braves. In his place will go Matt Harvey.
Syndergaard, Collins says, has “tired arm.” But also says he has some discomfort in his right biceps. He will have an MRI, but Syndergaard says it’s not serious and that he could pitch as soon as Sunday. Collins says this is an abundance-of-caution type thing, saying “we can’t take a chance on this guy.” Which is true.
The Mets ace is 1-1 with a 1.73 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 26 innings. He has walked no one this year. Not a soul.
James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.
And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:
“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”
“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.
“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.