Aaron Boone, New York Yankees
(Lynne Sladky / Associated Press)

James Paxton has impressed the Yankees this spring, and Aaron Boone is confident the lefty can win MLB’s top pitching accolade.

Aaron Case

Maybe Aaron Boone is rethinking his decision to hand Masahiro Tanaka the Opening Day start. The New York Yankees manager basically called James Paxton his ace after the lefty dominated his most recent spring outing.

Following the Sunday game, a reporter asked Boone about Paxton’s ability to compete for a Cy Young in 2019.

The second-year manager told the group of media members, including NJ.com’s Randy Miller, that Paxton indeed has what it takes:

“Yeah. I think he’s one of those guys when he is at his best can match other elite pitchers. He’s got that kind of ability and one of the things, I have kind of said since we got him, as good as he’s already been, he doesn’t have a lot of mileage on him for being 30 years of age. We feel like hopefully his best years are still to come. That’s saying something considering how good he’s been. He looks really impressive to me right now.”

Injuries have limited Paxton in the past, and he’s only thrown 582.1 innings in six MLB seasons.

The good news for Yankees fans, though, is that he’s put up career-high innings marks in each of the last three seasons. In 2018 he tossed 160.1 innings, and his goal for 2019 is a lofty 200.

The Canadian is well on his way to accomplishing that feat. So far this spring he’s 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 11.2 innings.

His latest effort was a 4.1-inning no-hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies. That performance included forcing soft contact and a strikeout from star Bryce Harper.

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But what could really set Paxton apart in a crowd of AL Cy Young hopefuls is his drive for perfection. The 30-year-old told Miller that no-hitting Philly wasn’t quite good enough:

“I just felt I got into too many deep counts and I want to work on putting guys away when I get the opportunity. There were a lot of fastballs that were foul balls. I think that I probably could have gone to a breaking ball a little earlier instead of just letting them foul off a fastball, so I could be more efficient that way.”

With an attitude like that and a little luck on the health front, Paxton could make Yankees fans extremely happy in the coming season.

Freelance editor and writer, and full-time Yankees fan. Originally from Monticello, NY, but now lives in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.