Spring Training Preview: James Paxton Makes Dodgers Debut Against Reds

The Los Angeles Dodgers continue their preparation for the regular season by playing their first Cactus League night game of the year with a matchup against the Cincinnati Reds at Goodyear Ballpark.

The Dodgers dropped their first Spring Training game to the Texas Rangers on Wednesday, which included a dazzling debut for Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Offense continues to be a strong suit in Dodgers camp, showcasing the depth within the organization.

James Paxton gets the start against the Reds, making his debut after signing a one-year contract. Paxton’s addition to the staff is an upside play, similar to what the organization has done in prior years.

The Dodgers hope to bottle up the success Paxton had with the Boston Red Sox in 2023 prior to injuring his knee, when he posted a 2.73 ERA, 3.63 FIP, 0.98 WHIP and .200 batting average allowed.

Dodgers pitching coach Mark Prior working with Paxton is a terrific pairing, while bringing balance to a right-handed heavy starting rotation. If he’s able to stay healthy, Paxton’s upside can be that of a very productive arm at the backend.

Landon Knack, Alex Vesia, T.J. McFarland, Gus Varland, Nabil Crismatt and Stephen Gonsalves are also scheduled to pitch for the Dodgers.

On the mound for the Reds is Graham Ashcraft, now in his fourth year within their organization. Thursday’s outing will be his first this spring, and Ashcraft’s initial step in building off a decent campaign this past year.

Ashcraft features a solid pitch mix, adding a changeup this offseason to balance out his cut-fastball, slider and sinker repertoire.

In 2023, Ashcraft carried a 4.76 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, with 145.2 innings pitched across 26 starts.

The Dodgers lineup has several key names penciled in, as Mookie Betts, Will Smith, James Outman, Teoscar Hernández and Gavin Lux start.

Lux appears in his fifth game of Spring Training, already logging 11 at-bats with three hits. The young infielder is in the initial stages of getting his now-healed knee ready for he rigors of a full regular season slate.

Dodgers lineup

2B: Mookie Betts
RF: Jason Heyward
C: Will Smith
LF: Teoscar Hernández
CF: James Outman
3B: Chris Taylor
SS: Gavin Lux
DH: Chris Owings
1B: Kevin Padlo

Reds lineup

RF: Jake Fraley
SS: Elly De La Cruz
3B: Jeimer Candelario
LF: Spencer Steer
C: Tyler Stephenson
1B: Christian Encarnacion-Strand
DH: Mike Ford
CF: Stuart Fairchild
2B: Tony Kemp

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