James Paxton will be on the mound for the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif., something that both the left-hander and the organization couldn't be sure would ever happen just a few months ago.
Paxton made his first two starts with the Red Sox earlier this month, a year and a half after he signed with the club as a free agent. The Red Sox inked a deal with Paxton in December 2021 even though he was expected to miss the entire 2022 season because of Tommy John surgery.
The Red Sox paid Paxton $6 million in 2022 essentially to rehab the former Mariner and Yankee. However, the club declined an option to pay him $13 million per season in both 2023 and 2024. Paxton, though, had a player option of $4 million to stay in Boston for 2023, and he grabbed it.
"For me, I was just trying to get my feet back under me again in the big leagues," Paxton said. "These guys (the Red Sox's training staff and medical team) knew me really well, rehabbing me all year last year, and they did a fantastic job of that. I felt comfortable with this group. I just felt like it was the right group to get me back on my feet in the big leagues."
Paxton might have been able to get more on the open market, but after a conversation with his agent Scott Boras, the 34-year-old Canadian made the call to stay.
"It wasn't the longest conversation we ever had," Paxton said. "It was just, 'Look, you haven't pitched in a couple of years, now you feel comfortable there. This is about getting you back on the mound again and getting you to feel good.' I just felt like this was the right place, and (Boras) agreed.
"There's also that piece where I felt like I owed it to the team to pitch here."
He is 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA in two starts this season, including his first victory since Aug. 15, 2020, when he allowed just one run and five hits in six innings against the San Diego Padres on Friday.
Paxton has pitched well against the Angels in his career, going 4-3 with a 2.43 ERA in 12 career starts. He will try to help the Red Sox avoid being swept by the Angels after losses in the first two games of the series, 2-1 on Monday and 4-0 on Tuesday.
Left-hander Tyler Anderson (1-0, 5.27 ERA) will make his ninth start of the season for the Angels. He won his first start on April 2 against the Oakland A's, but he has received a no-decision in all seven starts since then. In his most recent outing, on Thursday in Baltimore, Anderson gave up three runs and six hits in five innings.
He is 0-0 with a 7.56 ERA in two career starts vs. Boston.
Anderson has allowed three runs or fewer in each of his past four starts, including his longest outing of the season on April 28 when he gave up one run and five hits in 6 2/3 innings against the Milwaukee Brewers, striking out a season-high seven.
"That was his best one," Angels manager Phil Nevin said. "This is what we saw last year (when Anderson pitched for the Dodgers, going 15-5 with a 2.57 ERA). Located very well. Changeup was really good. He added a couple ticks of velocity. I thought he was really good."
The Red Sox will hope they can muster more offense against Anderson than they did in the first two games of the series. Boston produced one run, six hits and four walks while striking out 16 times in the two defeats.
--Field Level Media