Paxton exits after 1 inning with 'dull soreness'

Yankees opt to play it smart with lefty ahead of ALDS start

September 28th, 2019

ARLINGTON -- Under normal circumstances, believes that he could have pitched through the left glute tightness that limited his final regular-season start to one inning on Friday evening. The Yankees would rather have him rested and ready for the American League Division Series.

Removed for precautionary reasons after a 21-pitch first inning in the Yanks' 14-7 victory over the Rangers at Globe Life Park, Paxton is expected to go through his normal preparation in hopes of drawing the starting assignment for Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Twins at Yankee Stadium.

"I think I could have kept going but they wanted to play it safe and have me completely rested for what comes next," Paxton said. "I don't think it's going to be anything serious. I could've kept on pitching and worked through it. They wanted me to play it safe."

Paxton described the discomfort as "dull soreness." He had been riding a career-best 10-start winning streak dating to Aug. 2, and surrendered a two-run homer to Danny Santana before being relieved by Ben Heller, who began warming as the Yankees batted in the second inning.

"I really don't think it's anything big at all," manager Aaron Boone said. "He wanted to go back out there. Normally I would've let him. I sided with the next one is too important so I said, 'That's it.' I didn't want to mess with anything. I do think it's kind of a minor deal."

Prior to Friday's game, Boone had said the Yankees might ease Paxton's workload to the area of 80 pitches, but a single inning had not been in the plans.

Paxton completed the regular season -- his first in New York -- with a 15-6 record and 3.82 ERA in 29 starts. In 150 2/3 innings, Paxton permitted 138 hits while walking 55 and striking out a team-leading 186 batters.

The Yankees could ill afford to lose Paxton, especially in a season that has seen them place a Major League record 30 players on the injured list (including Paxton, who served a stint in May for left knee inflammation).

"I'm not worried for that," Boone said. "I would expect him to prepare depending on when we slot him, have his normal sides and everything. I don't think this will really alter that too much."

Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka are expected to be the Yanks' other starters in the ALDS, with J.A. Happ and CC Sabathia both having been used in relief roles this past week.

"I don't know what the plan is yet for when I pitch," Paxton said. "We'll put together a plan once we figure that out."