Dodgers News: Pirates Made James Paxton ‘Pay’ For Poor Control of Fastball

James Paxton has been a quality starting option for the Los Angeles Dodgers this season, despite dealing with traffic in most of his starts. His signing as a depth starter in the offseason went largely under the radar amidst all the other high-profile signings the Dodgers made.

He found a lot of success with the Dodgers early on with a 2.58 ERA through his first seven starts with the team, and his signing as a depth piece looked even better in hindsight after the Dodgers lost Bobby Miller for a significant amount of time due to injury.

However, he could be the odd man out now that Walker Buehler has retuned from injury, Gavin Stone has become a legitimate starter, and Miller is near the end of his rehab.

His start on Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates did him no favors for his case to keep possession of a spot in the rotation, and Paxton discussed what went wrong in his outing, via Bill Plunkett of the L.A. Times:

“They were just on the fastball. I think I was leaving it a little over the plate too much,” Paxton said. “Too much stuff in the middle of the plate. And they made me pay.”

After an uneventful first inning, the Pirates exploded for seven runs thanks to the first five batters of the inning reaching safely against Paxton. The first out he recorded was only due to a sacrifice bunt and he also walked two batters during this inning, including the leadoff man.

The result looked like regression to where his peripherals suggest as he has dealt with a lot of luck this season:

“Those are two things that, you look at James throughout his history, there’s command and there’s swing-and-miss. Tonight he just didn’t have either,” Roberts said.

“Early, the first six weeks (of the season) call it, the batting average on balls in play was low, we were turning double plays (behind Paxton). Tonight, when the ball gets in play there’s a chance for it to find outfield grass and that’s what happened tonight.”

The high number of walks and lack of strikeouts have been underlying issues throughout the season that pointed to Paxton’s success being unsustainable. Paxton was pulled after 1.2 innings in which he retired five of the 13 batters he faced, was charged with six earned runs, walked two and struck out two.

Dodgers need Mookie Betts and Shohei Ohtani to break out of slump

It has been a well documented issue that the Dodgers offense only goes as far as its star players will take it this season. The bottom-third of the lineup continues to be an issue and it is greatly exasperated when the top guys aren’t producing as well.

It has been an unfortunate reality that slumps by Mookie Betts and Shohei Ohtani have coincided, with Dodgers manager Dave Roberts saying the two aren’t where they need to be.

Ohtani has been nursing a hamstring contusion, but had a nice day against the Pirates with two hits that included a home run. Betts continued his skid with an 0-for-4 night and is now 1-for-24 in the past six games.

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