The Boston Red Sox take on the San Diego Padres on Friday night, and it will be the second start of the season for left-hander James Paxton.
Paxton, who has barely pitched since 2019 because of injury, made a huge impression last Friday in his first start against the St. Louis Cardinals. He went five innings, struck out nine and hit 98 mph on the radar gun.
Despite the optimism that Paxton provides for the Red Sox and their starting rotation, ESPN MLB Insider Buster Olney isn’t ready to go all-in yet.
Speaking on the ‘Brady Farkas Show’ on Thursday night, Olney said:
“Look, if you’re going to ramp up your velocity the way that Sale has, the way that Paxton apparently has… throwing 98 MPH, it’s probably going to require more of a delivery, and that does make me cringe a little bit, because of the injury history.”
The questions on Paxton’s health are certainly fair. He threw just over 20 innings in the COVID 2020 season with the Yankees, threw 1.1 innings in 2021 for the Mariners and then needed Tommy John surgery.
He rehabbed in 2022 but never made it to the big leagues because of various other issues.
If he’s able to stay healthy, he’ll be a big boost to a rotation that is full of questions. Sale and Corey Kluber come with injury history and youngster Brayan Bello eventually comes with innings limitations.
The team recently moved Nick Pivetta to the bullpen, meaning Paxton has a spot in the rotation as long as he’s healthy.
The Red Sox will take on the Padres Friday at 9:40 p.m. ET.