Paxton will throw a bullpen session on Friday. If all goes well, he would start twice at Safeco Field in the last week of the season.
HOUSTON — The remaining games aren’t meaningless to James Paxton. And while some fans may want him to be done for the season as a protection against a usage injury that he’s shown no signs of having this season, the big left-hander wants to pitch before the 2018 season ends — twice.
And that’s his goal going forward after throwing a 40-pitch bullpen session before Tuesday’s game. It was the first time he’d thrown off a mound in any situation since being leveled by the un-fun combination of influenza and pneumonia.
“I felt pretty good, but I was pretty gassed afterward,” he said. “I’m going to get another bullpen in and hopefully get to a point where I have something left in the tank after the bullpen and then I will get back in games.”
The draining effects of the double dose of sickness and the time spent recovering have sapped Paxton of his stamina. He’s been slowly trying to get it back since rejoining the team in Houston.
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“I was panting and feeling like I couldn’t go pitch competitively after that,” he said.
Paxton is scheduled to throw another bullpen session at Globe Life Park before Friday’s game vs. the Rangers. He hopes he’ll be able to be slotted into the rotation and start twice in that last homestand to close out the season.
“I’m really hoping to get two starts in and get the opportunity to get to the 160-inning mark,” he said. “That would set me up well to go 200-plus innings next year. If I do make two starts, they’ll probably both bet at home in that last week. It would be great to get those starts at home and try to win some games for our fans and show our appreciation for their support all season.”
Paxton has already reached a career high with 26 starts and 150 1/3 innings pitched at the big league level this season. He’s posted an 11-6 record with a 3.83 ERA with 194 strikeouts.
Mariners manager Scott Servais met with Paxton before Wednesday’s pregame workout.
“I had a chance to sit down and talk with him for a long time today about where he’s at, how his season has gone and try to put a plan together,” Servais said. “We have not mapped out our rotation with him or Felix (Hernandez) in it. We’ll try to do that in the next 24 hours and we have the off day tomorrow. Hopefully that will lead us to a decision.”
Servais understands Paxton’s desire to make those two starts to close out the season.
“We’ll try to make it work for all the guys, but he made it pretty clear that he’d like to make a couple of turns,” Servais said. “I don’t see why he couldn’t. But we’ll wait and see how his bullpen goes.”
What benefit does this have?
“I think innings-wise, if you are healthy, you want to finish the season with healthy and get your innings up a little bit, knowing you’ve been there before,” Servais said. “We’ve seen that with Marco (Gonzales). Pax has never gone through a complete season where he hasn’t had to deal with something. It’s important he gets his innings up there. The goal is to get to the 200 level. Not many guys get there, but if you get close, you’ve had a heck of a season. If he can get to 160, we can build upon that and it puts him in line to throw 185-190 next year.”