One day after Justin Verlander matched the 2018 season high with 14 strikeouts, Mariners starter James Paxton surpassed it. The hard-throwing lefty punched out 16 batters across seven shutout frames against the Athletics on Wednesday night. Paxton yielded just five hits and a walk on 105 pitches.
Paxton’s 16 are the most strikeouts in a game since the Rockies’ Jon Gray on September 17, 2016 against the Padres. Danny Duffy, Max Scherzer, and Vince Velasquez also struck out 16 that year. The feat has only been accomplished 11 times since the start of the 2011 season.
Paxton didn’t come into Wednesday’s start with the best stats. In six starts, he carried a 5.12 ERA with a 44/15 K/BB ratio in 31 2/3 innings. His ERA is now down to 4.19.
Juan Nicasio took over for Paxton in the eighth inning with a 2-0 lead. He promptly gave up a game-tying two-run home run to Jed Lowrie, taking the W away from Paxton.
Per The Athletic’s Matt Gelb, Phillies starter Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife goes into labor and gives birth to their first child, expected to be later this month. Wheeler, in fact, is not sure if he will return to play at all once their child is born.
Wheeler said, “We just have to see how things are here at the field and at the stadium. I’m happy with what I see so far. But things could change, especially once our baby’s born. I always think about what’s going on around me. Is it safe? Is it OK? Literally every single day. I have to just ask myself that. I’m going to continue to keep asking myself that every day.”
Wheeler, 30, inked a five-year, $118 million contract with the Phillies in December. He is slated for the No. 2 spot in the rotation behind Aaron Nola. Last season, with the Mets, Wheeler posted a 3.96 ERA with 195 strikeouts and 50 walks over 195 1/3 innings.
The No. 5 spot in the Phillies’ rotation is currently up for grabs between Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Ranger Suárez, and prospect Spencer Howard. One of the remaining three could fill in for Wheeler when he needs time off, temporarily or otherwise.