Paxton rooting for Moustakas, Young in World Series
'They're just a gritty team and I like the way they play,' lefty says of KC
SEATTLE -- Like every player to put on a uniform, James Paxton dreams of the day he might pitch in a World Series. But for now, he's living vicariously through a couple friends playing on the big stage for the Kansas City Royals.
Paxton is keeping busy himself this October in the Arizona Fall League, pitching for the Peoria Javelinas. But the Mariners southpaw has kept an eye on the postseason drama, which includes some magnificent moments for his former roommate and workout partner Mike Moustakas as well as one-time Mariner pitching mentor Chris Young and ex-teammate Kendrys Morales.
"There's going to be some great games between those two staffs," Paxton said Tuesday from Peoria. "It'll be real interesting. I definitely want to catch some games."
Paxton says he's heard a lot about young Mets ace Matt Harvey since he belongs to the same agency and he's always been impressed by third baseman David Wright.
"Just the way he carries himself on the field, it's hard not to be a fan," Paxton said of Wright.
But if pushed, yeah, he'll be rooting for the American League representatives in the best-of-seven series.
"That's fair to say. I have some connections with guys on that team," Paxton said. "Chris and Kendrys and Moose and I've met [Eric Hosmer]. They're just a gritty team and I like the way the play. It'd be very cool for them to be back for the second year and take home the hardware."
Paxton lived with Moustakas for several stints during offseason time and Spring Trainings in past years. But it is Young, the veteran 6-foot-10 pitcher who won Tuesday's World Series opener in relief and is scheduled to start Game 4 on Saturday at Citi Field, who greatly impacted him last year when the two were teammates in Seattle.
Young won AL Comeback Player of the Year honors for the Mariners, going 12-9 with a 3.65 ERA in his first fully healthy year since 2007 after a series of shoulder issues. The Princeton graduate brought a studious approach that Paxton observed closely during a season when his own shoulder injuries limited him to 14 starts.
"The biggest thing I learned from him was preparation," Paxton said. "He is so good at analyzing hitters and how he wants to go after them. He'd watch video and put the numbers together and decide whether the numbers were more accurate or his eyes. I try to do the same. I watch video of guys I'm going to face and then look at the stats, hot zones and cold zones, and formulate a plan.
"Chris is just such a smart guy and he's taken what he's had on the mound and turned it into a successful product. Just learning from him and putting it into my own stuff has really helped me."
Young also is living proof that patience sometimes is required, particularly with pitchers. Paxton has missed much of the past two seasons with injuries, which is why he's throwing now in the Fall League to build up his innings and put himself in better position for a full 2016.
Young was an All-Star with the Padres in 2007, but was able to make just 28 starts in a four-year stretch from 2010-13 before mounting his comeback bid with the Mariners. And this season, after signing as a free agent with the Royals, he's followed up with an 11-6 record and a 3.06 ERA, was the starting pitcher in Kansas City's Game 4 win over the Blue Jays in the AL Championship Series and now will be on the mound for the first World Series start of his career on Saturday at age 36.