James Paxton set to make Red Sox debut Friday against Cardinals

Chicago White Sox v Seattle Mariners
Chicago White Sox v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

The Boston Red Sox will be getting a starter back this week, that being none other than James Paxton. Paxton will be making his regular-season debut with the team, after sustaining a hamstring injury in spring training that held him out through April. This should help to bolster a Boston starting rotation that truthfully has struggled so far this season, ranking third to last in ERA by starters, with a whopping 6.10 through 37 games.

Paxton has not yet played for the Sox despite being signed in December of 2021 and then re-signed in November of 2022. He previously had Tommy John surgery which had ended any chance of him playing in 2021, and then had a grade two tear in his latissimus dorsi that held him out through the remainder of 2022. He would then go on to have a hamstring injury this March, which pushed him out of the rotation until this Friday.

James has spent the last few weeks rehabbing in Worcester, starting five games and relieving in an additional one. Through that span he pitched in 21.2 innings, registering a 6.65 ERA, with 16 walks allowed, but also 26 strikeouts. It is worth noting that the walks were a significant source of his struggles, as he did only give up 18 hits through that span of time, and two home runs, according to Baseball Reference.

It is worth noting that it likely will take Paxton a few starts to really get into a good position, and that the odds that he performs early on are relatively low. This can be somewhat compared to Chris Sale, who was also coming off a few years of various injuries and few starts. However, once Paxton gets going, he has shown that he can be a quality starter in the MLB.

In his last season before injury, Paxton started 29 games for the New York Yankees, with a record of fifteen and six. He pitched 150.2 innings, accruing a 3.82 ERA with 186 strikeouts to only 55 walks. It is also worth noting that the season prior in 2018 he threw two complete games and one full shutout, so he absolutely was a high performing starter in his early 30s.

With that said, we are now three years and some months removed from his last great starts, so we will see if he can return to form. Giving him a start against a struggling St. Louis Cardinals team should be beneficial towards his recovery, as they are last in the National League with a 13-24 record. With Nick Pivetta also struggling mightily, there is absolutely room for Paxton to take a spot in this starting rotation come summertime.