mariners

Mariners Double Take—Paxton New Look, Walker New Pitch

M’s Young Starters Tirelessly Working To Improve

Hard work yields positive results, right?  If you are a Seattle Mariners contract holder and hope to make the 25 man roster, you’d better be thinking that way.  This spring appears to be all about who has and is willing to work the hardest to make the team.

I like that way of thinking that we are seeing from new M’s skipper Scott Servais.  In the case of two of the Mariners most talented and young pitchers, it’s a lesson they appear to be taking to heart.

James Paxton

Paxton is not guaranteed a starting spot or a place on the M’s 25 man roster this season.

Paxton

It took about two seconds to notice the change in Seattle Mariners starter James Paxton once he arrived in Peoria for spring camp.  Paxton, just like his former AAA battery mate Jesus Montero did last year, has shed a large number of pounds from his frame.

Paxton has long been in the 240-250lb range during his time in the Mariners organization.  This year Paxton reported to camp with that number being less than 220.  The change in Paxton’s physique has not gone unnoticed by his teammates or coaching staff either.

That’s likely good news for Paxton since he can’t be considered a shoe-in to make the rotation out of spring camp.  The Mariners re-signed Hisashi Iwakuma after acquiring Wade Miley.  Those two plus Felix Hernandez leaves just two rotation slots open for the likes of Paxton, Taijuan Walker, and Nate Karns.

I believe the pounds Paxton has shed will benefit his play in a number of areas.  First and foremost, I think it’s going to help Paxton in terms of fatigue.  Athletic guys can throw more pitches and fight through more tough innings. 

Another bonus quite possibly could be Paxton’s durability which has been a question mark at times.  Last year Paxton was sidelined for much of the season with a problem with a finger on his pitching hand.  Weight loss probably won’t help that but it could help prevent lat strains like the one Paxton suffered during the 2014 campaign that caused him to a boat load of time.

Paxton has also stated this spring that he spent a lot of time in the fall league working on his changeup and fastball locations.  In addition to staying healthy, Paxton will need to continue to improve his pitching if he hopes to regularly pitch seven innings or more and make the M’s rotation.

taijuan-walker-seattle-mariners.png

Another pitch could elevate Walker’s game (Photo: Google)

Walker

The Mariners hopes are still really high on right hander Taijuan Walker.  I constantly have to remind myself that Walker is still a very young pitcher, 23 years old, because we’ve seen him pitch in so many seasons.

The Mariners likely rushed Walker to the big leagues, in much the same way they did Mike Zunino.  I guess we have Jack Zduriencik and his staff to thank for that.  The rushing of Walker didn’t do nearly as much damage as what happened to Zunino, however.

Walker had a great second half to the 2015 after a very rocky start.  At one point his ERA was 7.55 yet he was able to finish the year, without a demotion to Tacoma, and finish with a respectable ERA of 4.56.

Walker also threw the most innings in a season last year when he completed 169.2 innings, and did so without an injury.  The early word in Mariners camp this year is the Walker will not have any restrictions on innings during the 2016 season.

With Walker’s durability question seemingly in the rear view mirror, what has the young right hander been working on?  A new pitch of course!  Well, maybe not so much a new pitch as a re-working of an old one.

Walker now is throwing re-vamped change-up.  He’s throwing a straight change now instead of a split or circle grip.  While it’s still too early to know if the new style change-up will work in games, it’s good to see a young player like Walker continue to try and do anything to improve his game.

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About Brian Scott

Husband, Philosopher, Animal Rights Advocate, and Author Brian is a Spokane native and Gonzaga University grad. Seahawks, Mariners, GU Hoops and Cougar football are the teams that drive his passion for sports. You can catch him on twitter too! Connect with Brian today!
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