The Mariners have been hit with the injury bug recently, losing Ketel Marte and Leonys Martin to the disabled list, but the team’s starting rotation has remained intact.
The healthy rotation in Seattle has allowed left-hander James Paxton to work on improving his consistency with Triple-A Tacoma.
Paxton has made 10 starts, going 4-3 with a 3.90 ERA. In 47 2/3 innings, Paxton has struck out 50 and walked 14.
The manner in which he has built those numbers has been anything but a straight line: After struggling in his first two starts, Paxton made a mechanical change and reeled off four consecutive dominant outings.
In his most recent starts, Paxton has been hurt by a single, big inning. He allowed a five-run inning to Omaha on May 16, and a four-run inning to Iowa on May 21.
“He hasn’t been able to command the fastball in those innings,” Tacoma pitching coach Lance Painter said. “The balls he’s gotten hurt on are balls that he leaves out over the plate. If you’re throwing 97 (mph) and hitters aren’t looking for a fastball, they have no chance. So you know they are looking for the pitch, and if you don’t execute the pitch they are good enough to hit it.”
In his most recent start, on Thursday in Round Rock, Texas, Paxton carried a two-hit shutout into the sixth inning before a two-out error, a pair of walks and a single led to a couple of unearned runs.
Pagan on a roll
Edwin Diaz is getting attention at Double-A Jackson after the right-hander’s recent move from the starting rotation to the bullpen.
But teammate Emilio Pagan is making a good impression, too. .
In 13 games for the Mariners affiliate, Pagan has gone 3-1 with six saves and a 1.23 ERA. He’s pitched 22 innings and allowed 14 hits, recording 30 strikeouts next to eight walks.
Pagan, a right-hander, has posted a sub-3.00 ERA in each of his past two seasons, at Single-A Clinton and Bakersfield.
“He has a plus fastball with good command, he pitches around 91 (mph) but can get it up to 94, and he has a slider and a changeup,” Jackson manager Daren Brown said. “He has good movement on the fastball. Hitters don’t pick it up real well.”
Pagan, 25, was the Mariners’ 10th-round draft pick in 2013 out of Belmont Abbey College.
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.