NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 18: James Paxton #65 of the New York Yankees reacts after retiring the Houston Astros during the eighth 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 left-hander James Paxton should be back on the field sooner than expected, according to his agent.

This week, the New York Yankees sadly had to reintroduce their “next man up” mantra. Left-hander James Paxton underwent microscopic lumbar discectomy, a type of back surgery that removed a peridiscal cyst and is supposed to keep him out for around 3-4 months. The expected timetable for return was reported by the team’s public relations department.

But apparently, that timetable may not entirely be true. According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, Paxton’s agent Scott Boras says he could return even sooner than that.

The first third of the season includes the initial 54 games, with the final matchup in that span taking place on May 25.

The Yankees were possibly going to have Paxton be the third starter in the rotation this season behind Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka.

Paxton’s setback could thus pave the way for lefty Jordan Montgomery to enter the starting rotation. Injuries have plagued Montgomery the last two seasons, as he underwent Tommy John surgery during the 2018 campaign.

Over the last two seasons combined, Montgomery has appeared in just eight games with seven starts (31.1 total innings pitched).

Paxton is coming off a 2019 season (his first with the Yankees) in which he posted a 15-6 record with a 3.82 ERA and 1.281 WHIP through 29 starts. He struck out 186 batters and walked a career-high 55.

The Yanks pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 12, with their first spring training game occurring on Feb. 22 against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.