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James Paxton to miss start of season after undergoing lumbar surgery

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Big Maple will start the 2020 season on the injured list

League Championship Series - Houston Astros v New York Yankees - Game Five Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Yankees lasted just over a month in 2020 before they announced a player injury. Earlier this afternoon, the team revealed that James Paxton “underwent a microscopic lumbar discectomy with removal of a peridiscal cyst.” The club believes he can return to big-league action in three to four months, meaning he will open the season on the injured list.

According to multiple reports, Paxton first experienced discomfort at the end of the 2019 season. Doctors recommended a conservative treatment pan, including a series of injections in an attempt to avoid surgery. The left-hander continued to experience pain throughout the winter, so he went under the knife today to resolve the issue.

”Surgery is always the last resort and the last resort takes time,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman explained to Joel Sherman. “We lost time on the playing side. We took the proper steps of the process to determine if surgery was necessary or not.”

Cashman also confirmed to Sherman that the presence of this injury led to the team holding on to J.A. Happ. He named Jordan Montgomery, Mike King, Jonathan Loaisiga, Luis Cessa, and Deivi Garcia as potential fifth starters.

Paxton, 31, pitched to a 3.82 ERA (3.86 FIP) over 150.2 innings last season. He struck out a ton of batters (11.11 K/9), but he also gave up a noticeable amount of home runs (1.37 HR/9). A balky knee landed him on the injured list in May, but he recovered and went on a strong stretch run, serving as the team’s most effective starter. He had a solid postseason showing, including an electric Game Five of the ALCS against the Astros.

We’ll have more on this in the coming days. For now, though, it’s a bummer that the injury bug struck before pitchers and catchers even reported. Get well soon, Big Maple, We’ll see you around May or so.