Opinion: James Paxton is the next Felix Hernandez

Austin Lane, Staff Reporter

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When the Seattle Mariners needed a young pitcher to come in and fill the shoes of starting pitcher Felix Hernandez, they got James Paxton.

Hernandez will go down as one of the greatest Mariners pitchers, but has fallen off the past few seasons. He led the MLB with a 2.14 ERA in 2014 and got screwed out of the Cy Young trophy. Ever since, his ERA has dipped, his average strikeouts went down and his fastball lost its velocity. His once “nasty” changeup isn’t so nasty anymore.

Ultimately, Seattle needed a new ace. Enter James Paxton.

Paxton has shown flashes of being the pitcher that the Mariners so desperately need, but every season he has some kind of injury that impacts or ends his season altogether.

This season, he is once again proving that if he can stay healthy, he can be our next Hernandez. Through eight starts, Paxton has a sub-4 ERA and currently leads the MLB in strikeouts per game.

A big part of that was his performance against the Oakland Athletics on May 2, where he threw seven innings of no runs, five hits, one walk  and a career-high 16 strikeouts. Something that Hernandez surely couldn’t do anymore.

If Paxton can stay healthy all year, he will go to the all-star game, have a chance to win the Cy Young. He could also be the leader that takes the Seattle Mariners to the playoffs for the first time in 16 years.

On May 8, Paxton threw a no-hitter for the M’s against the Toronto Blue Jays and showed that he could be the new faces of the Mariners organization.. He proved that he is the starting pitcher we need.

Paxton is still only 29 years old, which means he will more than likely be on the team when Hernandez decides to retire. He is also the only pitcher on the team right now that can throw a fastball over 90 mph.

I would love to see Paxton help get the team to the playoffs for the first time in 16 years. It would be fitting for the changing of the times for the organization and would finally show all Mariners fans that Paxton is indeed the next Hernandez.

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Opinion: James Paxton is the next Felix Hernandez