Dodgers’ James Paxton Struggled To ‘Find A Rhythm’ In Loss To Reds

James Paxton has been solid at the back end of the Los Angeles Dodgers rotation this season. While he’s had significant command issues — leading the Majors in walks — he has done a good job limiting damage and being consistent for L.A.

But things fell apart temporarily against the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night.

The walks were, once again, an issue. Paxton allowed four free passes compared with four strikeouts in 4.2 innings to add to his league-leading 28 walks. But on Friday, it was paired with a significant run total as well.

Paxton gave up five earned runs on five hits, including home runs to Spencer Steer and Stuart Fairchild. While Yohan Ramírez got the loss on his ledger and was unable to get out of the jam the left-hander created, it was arguably Paxton’s worst outing of the season.

He certainly felt that way as he reflected in the aftermath of the loss, according to Jack Harris of The L.A. Times:

“Just couldn’t really find a rhythm,” Paxton said. “I feel like I got better as the game went on a little bit and then just that fifth inning, kind of lost the handle a little bit again.”

Paxton has been working to add his cutter back into his repertoire, but opted not to use it at all on Friday. He stuck with a four-seam fastball and knuckle-curve mix with a rare changeup.

“Just not there yet,” Paxton said of his cutter. “There’s other pitches that I think are better to throw in-game right now. It’s something I’m going to work on on the side and if it comes around, we’ll use it. But right now it’s just not there.”

With the way Paxton has been flirting with traffic on the base paths, it was only a matter of time before he had one difficult game. He had a 1.38 WHIP and 5.14 FIP, despite a 2.84 ERA prior to Friday’s game, meaning there was bound to be a regression to the mean game.

Paxton’s ERA now sits at a still respectable 3.49, but his 5.56 FIP signals potential trouble ahead. The sooner Paxton can get a grasp on his command, the better for himself and for the Dodgers.

Dodgers’ Dustin May hoping for late 2024 return

A right flexor strain and a Tommy John revision surgery left Dustin May in the midst of a 12-month recovery process beginning after just 48 innings last season. With the way everything is progressing, May is hoping to make a return to the mound for the Dodgers in either August or September.

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