This game was everything we wanted it to be. Everything. All the things. Paxton is back, Cruz isn’t hurt, Zunino is creeping towards the Mendoza line, and the bullpen was lockdown.
Paxton stays under pitch count, shuts down Rox
Paxton’s absence has been one of the hardest to deal with. He and Haniger were 1-2 in WAR for the team this season before they both went down (Paxton 2.0, Haniger 1.8). Watching the M’s try to pitch well over the last month or so has been like watching Eddie the Eagle, but exponentially less heartwarming or inspiring. Maybe it’s the lack of Coke-bottle glasses, but I think it’s the high suck factor that took all the fun out of it.
“I can’t say enough about what it means to have Paxton back,” Servais said. “He gave us more tonight than we expected, having not pitched in a little over a month. At this level, it was awesome.”
When asked about limitations on Paxton in his return, Servais had mentioned that the pitch count would be 80-85 or less. He ended up tossing 74 over 5.1 shutout innings, with six strikeouts, no walks, and just three hits allowed. He threw 57 pitches for strikes, so his control was not an issue.
It’s hopefully/definitely too early to speculate on this, but Paxton could likely take over Felix’s role as the resident ace in the rotation. It’s great to have one of the pieces back, soon we’ll have more back in the rotation as well.
Haniger, Felix Prepping for Rehab Assignments
On the large and ugly injury front, Mitch Haniger and Felix Hernandez are getting ready for some rehab starts. Both were injured in the late April series at Detroit and have been out for just over a month, Haniger with an oblique strain suffered diving back to first on a pickoff attempt, and Felix with shoulder bursitis.
Haniger has been seen running and throwing before Mariner games this month, and Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that Felix reported no negative signs after a 30-pitch session on Wednesday. Both are likely to make their rehab starts with AAA Tacoma and join the team on their next road trip in two weeks.
If either of them, or even just one of them, can come back with the thunder Paxton brought with his return, it’ll be a great time to be a Mariner fan.
The M’s look to finish the sweep of Colorado today at Safeco before hosting the Rays for a three-game series.