Last season, the Yankees set records for Injured List stints. The organization even went so far as to make sweeping changes to the training staff. But as the old saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
On Wednesday afternoon, seemingly out of the blue, the Yankees announced that James Paxton underwent back surgery. If you want to get technical, it was described as a “microscopic lumbar discectomy with a removal of a peridiscal cyst.” The surgery was performed by Dr. Andrew Dossett in Dallas, Texas. Paxton is expected back in 3-4 months.
Earlier today, LHP James Paxton underwent a microscopic lumbar discectomy with removal of a peridiscal cyst. The surgery was performed by Dr. Andrew Dossett in Dallas, Texas. His approximate timeline to return to Major League action is 3-4 months.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) February 5, 2020
Last year, Paxton started off slowly and dealt with a sore knee, but he was able to finish the season strong and look comfortable in pinstripes, making a career high 29 starts. If you remember, the Yankees removed him as a precaution in his final start of the season after he felt back discomfort. The Yankees said at the time that it was just “nerve irritation” in his buttocks.
According to Bryan Hoch, doctors evaluated Paxton’s back after the season ended, but recommended to treat the issue conservatively.
Those “storm clouds” were indeed a factor in the Yanks holding on to J.A. Happ. One interesting addendum: Paxton was recovering from the injection, which is why he didn’t get the Game 1 start that went to Masahiro Tanaka.
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) February 5, 2020
Without Paxton to open the season, the Yankees are looking at a rotation of Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ and an “open competition” between Jordan Montgomery, Michael King, Jonathan Loaisiga, Luis Cessa and Deivi Garcia, according to Hoch.
While that is certainly enough pitching, it’s frustrating to deal with injuries when the calendar hasn’t even flipped to March. It must be extra frustrating for Paxton, who has yet to pitch a full season, as he enters his free agency year.