James Paxton throwing gas another encouraging sign for Red Sox pitching

Red Sox pitcher James Paxton is throwing 95 mph as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery

Less than 24 hours after Michael Wacha’s first rehab start at Triple-A turned into a combined no-hitter, the Boston Red Sox got another piece of good news on the pitching forefront.

James Paxton, whom the Sox signed to a one-year deal last December, is finally on his way and throwing hard. The 33-year-old lefty underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2021 and has been on the 60-Day Injured List since spring training. On Friday, he threw his second sim game in Fort Myers, and the radar gun clocked his top velocity at 95 mph. Alex Speier reported that Paxton threw “his entire pitch mix” during the sim.

While the velocity and facing live hitters are two encouraging updates, Paxton still has a ways to go before joining the big-league club. This was his second sim game this week, but he’ll have to make at least one rehab appearance before the club determines he’s ready to be back in the show.

The Sox signed the veteran southpaw knowing he’d miss significant time this year, so the contract includes a 2-year club option for 2023-24. It’s a logical long-term move by the Sox, as Paxton was an incredibly solid pitcher for several years. Between 2013-19 with the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees, “Big Maple” posted a 3.50 ERA over 131 starts, with 803 strikeouts and only 223 walks issued over 733 innings. The Sox are banking on him rebounding, but if he does, paying him this year for little to no pitching will be worth it.

Hopefully, Paxton comes back and is able to contribute to his new team before they’re officially out of the wild card race. If not, then they’ll try again next season.