|James Paxton acknowledging fans after a start last season. @Yankees.
The Yankees announced some surprising news on Wednesday, as one of their top starting pitchers, left-hander James Paxton, will miss the start of the season.
Paxton underwent a microscopic lumbar discectomy with removal of a peridiscal cyst. The surgery was performed by Dr. Andrew Dossett in Dallas, Texas.
The approximate timeline for Paxton's return is three to four months.
The Yankees were expected to enter the season with more depth in their starting rotation this season after they signed Gerrit Cole in December.
The rotation looked like it would feature Cole, Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, and J.A. Happ or Jordan Montgomery rounding it out.
Paxton went 15-6 in his first season in pinstripes and won his final ten starts. He then pitched well in the playoffs, as the Yankees won his only start in the Division Series against Minnesota (he went 4 2/3 innings, so he didn't qualify for the win.
In the ALCS, after getting roughed up in the second game of the series, he threw six solid innings (1 run, 4 hits, 9 strikeouts, 4 walks) in Game 5 as the Yankees beat Houston 4-1 to keep the series alive.
The Yankees were in talks to trade Happ in the offseason, so they are probably relieved he is still here. However, he did have a rough 2019, in which he went 12-8 with a 4.91 ERA and did not make a start in the playoffs. When it appeared he might be able to step in, Game 6 in Houston, the Yankees went with Chad Green - who had an abysmal 2019 - as an "opener" instead.
How Happ, 36, responds to likely having a spot in the rotation after being an afterthought in the postseason and then on the trading block will be interesting to see.
The Yankees likely will add another arm, as they do not want pitching depth to once again be an issue, and there are still plenty of quality arms on the market.