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LA Angels: 3 reasons to pursue James Paxton in free agency

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 15: James Paxton #65 of the New York Yankees in action against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on August 15, 2020 in New York City. New York Yankees defeated the Boston Red Sox 11-5. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 15: James Paxton #65 of the New York Yankees in action against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on August 15, 2020 in New York City. New York Yankees defeated the Boston Red Sox 11-5. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK, NEW YORK – AUGUST 20: James Paxton #65 of the New York Yankees pitches during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on August 20, 2020 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – AUGUST 20: James Paxton #65 of the New York Yankees pitches during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on August 20, 2020 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Upside

James Paxton has middle to top of the rotation upside if he can stay healthy in 2021. Paxton could be a very serviceable option for the Angels who are a team who needs rotation depth. Paxton’s 2019 was his last healthy season, and he was able to put up a 3.82 ERA and with a 3.86 FIP. He might have been hurt by the short porch of Yankee Stadium as his HR/9 jumped from 1.29 in 2018 to 1.37 in 2019.

Paxton put up a career worst BB/9 of 3.29 in 2019 but that seems like an outlier from his entire body of work. I believe that Paxton can provide very high upside if he can work on getting more ground balls, there seems to be a correlation between his fastball location and his ground ball rate.

His ground ball rate has been going down throughout his career and over the last few years, especially in 2019 and his very short 2020, he has located his fastball in the upper portion of the zone at a much higher rate than in prior years when he does not have the velocity to blow by hitters up in the zone.

James Paxton definitely would be a good signing for the Angels who would immediately slot into the middle of the rotation. It definitely feels like James Paxton has potential to lower his home run rate and his walk rate which would definitely help his case to have a much better season in 2021. Paxton might also be able to get more efficiency in 2021 because of the Angels using a six-man rotation, which should be able to maximize his health and give him more rest. The Angels feel like one of the best fits for him, for a multitude of reasons.

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