Yankees' James Paxton says he'll be ready for start of 2020 MLB season
Paxton has been recovering from February back surgery
Paxton underwent back surgery in February and was slated to be sidelined for the first two months of the regular season. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed back the start of the season until at least early July, Paxton now has time to get fully recovered and in game shape. "I think I've thrown probably 12 to 14 bullpens," the 31-year-old Paxton told Meredith Marakovits of YES Network. "It's (my back) feeling really good. (My) back is a non-issue, I feel totally healthy, so I'll be ready to go as soon as the season comes about."
Paxton, 31, is coming off a 2019 season in which he pitched to a 3.82 ERA with 186 strikeouts and 55 unintentional walks in 150 2/3 innings for the Yankees. For his career, Paxton owns an ERA+ of 117 and a K/BB ratio of 3.60 across parts of seven major league seasons. The Yankees originally acquired him from the Mariners in November 2018. He's slated for free agency after the upcoming season.
Since the start of the 2014 season, Paxton has been on the injured list eight times. Last season, he missed time with left knee inflammation. Paxton dealt with lower back problems in 2018 and also lat and forearm issues in his past. Paxton's health is even more important to the Yankees in 2020 since Luis Severino will miss the entirety of the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Right now, Paxton figures to slot in as the team's No. 3 starter behind Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka.