NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 18: James Paxton #65 of the New York Yankees reacts after retiring the Houston Astros during the sixth inning in game five of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 18, 2019 in New York City.
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

New York Yankees lefty James Paxton’s 2020 season will be delayed as he recovers from lower back surgery to remove a cyst.

New York Yankees left-hander James Paxton had surgery to remove a cyst from his lower back and will be out at least three months. The Yankees announced Paxton’s injury and subsequent surgery via Twitter.

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Paxton first experienced discomfort towards the end of last season. After opting for treatment over surgery, the pain lingered and he had the operation Wednesday.

Paxton, 31, is entering his second season with the Yankees. He went 15-6 with a 3.82 ERA in 29 starts last year and was 10-0 with a 2.50 ERA over the season’s final two months. Paxton also turned in a clutch performance in Game 5 of the ALCS, limiting the Houston Astros to one run in six innings of work.

Simply put, this is not what the Yankees wanted ahead of what should be an exciting 2020 season. Injuries ravaged the roster so badly in 2019 that a completely new training staff was brought in for this year.

The good news for the team comes in two pieces. First, assuming Paxton’s rehab goes smoothly, he could be back as early as May. Missing a month of action isn’t ideal, but not a crushing blow.

More importantly, however, the Yankees have pitching depth behind Paxton. General manager Brian Cashman already committed to veteran southpaw J.A. Happ being in the rotation, so this opens the door for Jordan Montgomery to make an impact. New York could also consider prospects Clarke Schmidt and Deivi Garcia for the rotation, as well as Domingo German once he’s back from suspension.

Either way, despite the bad timing, what matters the most is James Paxton’s long-term health.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.