BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 09: James Paxton #65 of the New York Yankees acknowledges the crowd after being relieved during the seventh inning of the game between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees at Fenway Park on September 09, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts.
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Despite having surgery on his back last month, New York Yankees starter James Paxton feels that he could be ready by mid-May. 

After being riddled with injuries last season, similar issues continue to plague the New York Yankees this spring. Heading into the regular season, the Yankees are expected to be without two of their best starting pitchers.

Following his surgery to remove a cyst from his back last month, James Paxton is expected to begin this season on the injured list and he was initially expected to miss significant time. However, the left-hander is already progressing quickly.

While he was initially provided with a three to four-month recovery timeline, the 31-year-old hurler has already begun throwing on flat ground.

On Wednesday, Paxton began playing catch for the first time this spring. While it may not seem like it, this was a major step for the veteran pitcher.

Following his throwing session, Paxton spoke to the media and expressed that he could potentially return in the middle of May. With that said, the lefty admitted that returning in mid-May would be a best-case scenario.

There’s still a chance that Paxton may not be ready to return to game action by then, but this isn’t the first time that he and his camp have stated their belief that he would return sooner than expected.

Shortly after the Yankees announced that Paxton would require surgery on his back, his agent, Scott Boras told Jon Heyman of MLB Network that his client would return during the “first third of the season.”

Since Paxton is set to enter free agency after this season, it’ll be very important for him to be back out on a mound as soon as possible. If he’s unable to stay healthy in 2020, then he might struggle to secure a long-term deal through free agency next winter.

During his first season with the Yankees, Paxton completed 150.2 innings and produced a 3.82 ERA, 3.86 FIP, 4.03 xFIP, 1.28 WHIP, .240 OPP AVG, 29.4% strikeout rate, 8.7% walk rate, 14.1% HR/FB rate along with a 3.5 fWAR rating as well.

Based on these numbers from last season, Paxton should be able to have an immediate impact on the Yankees’ pitching rotation once he’s ready to make his 2020 season debut. Paxton’s health in October will play a big factor in whether or not the Yankees can finally get back to the World Series.