James Paxton On WFAN: Yankees Think 'I'm The Guy' To Close Gap With Boston

Carlin, Maggie & Bart
November 20, 2018 - 2:01 pm
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By WFAN.com

The Yankees needed pitching help. The fans knew it, the coaches knew it and, most importantly, Brian Cashman knew it.

Cashman, the Yankees' general manager, took the first step to fixing the team's pitching issues Monday when he traded Justus Sheffield and two other prospects to the Seattle Mariners for lefty starter James Paxton. Paxton adds quality to the front end of a rotation that lacked a surefire ace at key points of last season.

New York’s pitching wasn’t terrible last year, but it was noticeably worse than Boston’s. The discrepancy between the Yankees' and Red Sox's starting rotations was a big part of why Alex Cora’s team beat Aaron Boone’s squad in their American League Division Series and eventually went on to win the World Series.

On Tuesday afternoon, Paxton joined WFAN's "Carlin, Maggie & Bart" to discuss his trade to New York. He has only been a Yankee for less than a day, but he already seems to have a sense for the rivalry and the reason he was acquired.

MORE: Yankees Acquire James Paxton From Mariners

"I'm honored to be called upon by the Yankees," said Paxton. "They have that confidence in me. They think I’m the guy that can help close that gap between Boston and put us in position to win a championship. It shows a lot of confidence in me, and I'm just really excited to be a part of it all."

Paxton, who turned 30 earlier this month, was one of Seattle’s best pitchers last season. In 28 starts he was 11-6 with a 3.76 ERA and 208 strikeouts. He made history on May 8 when he became the second Canadian to throw a no-hitter. The British Columbia native was incredibly efficient that day, as it only took him 99 pitches to dispatch the Toronto Blue Jays.

Moving from Seattle to the New York is a bit of a change, but Paxton appeared to be prepared to play for a franchise with some of the highest expectations in all of sports.

"New York expects to win," he said. "If you're not first, you're the worst. New York is all about winning championships. That’s what they expect. ... It’ll be a new experience for me to feel that much pressure, but I feel like I’m ready for it. I’ve kind of built up here the last few years, kind of gaining experience and playing in some bigger games here and there. I feel like I’m ready to go."

Paxton also spoke about his injury issues in the league. He felt optimistic that they wouldn't be a problem this season.

"I haven't had -- knock on wood -- any elbow injuries (or) any shoulder injuries," he said. "They've all been smaller injuries, kind of soft-tissue stuff. And none of the injuries I've had have returned. I've figured out ways to make sure that they don't happen again through rehab ... and I continue to learn about my body. I work really hard. I put everything I have into this thing. ... Things have been going in the right direction each year. The last few years here I've been throwing more and more innings. So hopefully I can keep that trend going and get closer to the 200-inning mark next year."

Listen to the full interview with Paxton below: