James Paxton
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James Paxton to miss 3-4 months after back surgery

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The New York Yankees just announced that starter James Paxton underwent back surgery today — a microscopic lumbar discectomy with removal of a peridiscal cyst, to be specific. His timeline to return to Major League action is 3-4 months.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that, per Brian Cashman, Paxton first experienced pain in his back the final week of the regular season and received treatment to which he responded well, allowing him to face the Astros in the postseason. Paxton was reportedly managing well in the offseason, but the issue returned a month ago. They attempted a conservative, pain-management program at first in an attempt to avoid surgery but it was unsuccessful. 

This is a huge blow for the Yankees. Paxton was set to be the number two or number three starter for New York after Gerrit Cole and, possibly, Masahiro Tanaka depending on how spring training played out. Now he’s out until May or June at least. Barring setbacks. Paxton was one of the Yankees’ few somewhat healthy pitchers last year, making 29 starts and posting a 3.82 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 186/55 in 150.2 innings.

Last year the Yankees managed to overcome a ton of injuries with a “next man up” philosophy and a whole lot of luck. They start 2020 poised to have to do the same thing once again.

Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife gives birth

Zack Wheeler miss starts
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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.