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)

After experiencing elbow and forearm discomfort following his start against the Rays, James Paxton is diagnosed with a strained flexor.

James Paxton is yet another player claimed by the New York Yankees injury bug.

And 2020 continues to just be the absolute worst year.

Whenever a pitcher complains of elbow and forearm discomfort, the smart money is on a UCL injury requiring Tommy John surgery. Thankfully, this is only a strained flexor and not the worst-case scenario.

However, this injury could not have happened at a worse time for the Yankees. The starting rotation should have been one of the best in the league this season. Instead, Luis Severino lost his season to Tommy John surgery. Paxton should have fit nicely into that second starter role before undergoing back surgery prior to the shutdown.

Paxton was obviously still recovering from his back surgery given his diminished velocity to start the shortened season. But his last two outings he finally looked like he was turning that corner in a return to dominance.

However, the Yankees don’t know when he will be back.

As for Paxton personally, injuries could cost him his big career payday. He will reach free agency for the first time in his career this offseason, but he likely won’t be in line for a big deal after this injury-plagued year.

That’s not to say a team won’t give him a chance if he can recover from this. But he’s going to have to be special in his return if he wants to make up even a fraction of what he would have earned this offseason if healthy.

The bottom line is that both Paxton and the Yankees are praying that this strained flexor is only a minor speed bump. The Yankees need him to return to dominant form for the postseason. Paxton needs to stay on the field long enough to get his payday. If not, it’s another horrible break for the Yankees, and a potentially life-changing break for Paxton.

Either way, the curse of the 2019 injury bug has clearly followed the Yankees to 2020.

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