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James Paxton exits start with lower back stiffness

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Mariners lefty James Paxton lasted just two-thirds of an inning in Thursday night’s start against the Angels before exiting the field with a trainer. Paxton had surrendered a solo home run to David Fletcher and a two-run homer to Albert Pujols.

Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports that Paxton exited with lower back stiffness. That’s good news compared to possible alternatives, which might have involved Paxton’s elbow or shoulder. The Mariners should pass along an update on Paxton’s status during the game or shortly following the conclusion.

Paxton, 29, has been solid for the Mariners this year, entering Thursday’s start 8-3 with a 3.49 ERA and a 154/33 K/BB ratio in 118 2/3 innings. Paxton also finished baseball’s most recent no-hitter, doing so on May 8 against the Blue Jays. As you can imagine, losing Paxton for any amount of time is a big deal for the Mariners, who are 58-35 and only three games behind the first-place Astros in the AL West.

Report: Nathan Eovaldi drawing interest from at least nine teams

Nathan Eovaldi
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Former Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is up for grabs this offseason, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says that as many as nine suitors are interested in bringing the righty aboard. While the Red Sox are eager to retain Eovaldi’s services after his lights-out performance during their recent postseason run, they’ll have to contend with the Brewers, Phillies, Braves, White Sox, Padres, Blue Jays, Giants, and Angels — all of whom are reportedly positioned to offer something for the starter this winter.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the 28-year-old in 2018, however. After losing his 2017 season to Tommy John surgery, he underwent an additional procedure to remove loose bodies from his right elbow in March and didn’t make his first appearance until the end of May. He was flipped for lefty reliever Jalen Beeks just prior to the trade deadline and finished his season with a combined 6-7 record in 21 starts, a 3.81 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, and 8.2 SO/9 through 111 innings.

Despite his numerous health issues over the last few years, Eovaldi raised his stock in October after becoming a major contributor during the Red Sox’ championship run. He contributed two quality starts in the ALDS and ALCS and returned in Games 1-3 of the World Series with three lights-out performances in relief — including a six-inning effort in the 18-inning marathon that was Game 3.

A frontrunner has yet to emerge for the righty this offseason, but Cafardo points out that the nine teams listed so far might just be the tip of the iceberg. Still, he won’t be the most sought-after starter on the market, as former Diamondbacks southpaw Patrick Corbin is expected to command an even bigger payday following his career-best 6.0-fWAR performance in 2018.