James Paxton's implosion might make Dodgers more desperate in trade talks

May 11, 2024; San Diego, California, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher James Paxton (65) throws a pitch against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
May 11, 2024; San Diego, California, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher James Paxton (65) throws a pitch against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports / Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
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James Paxton's signing was one of the last big moves the Dodgers made this offseason, and unlike most of the others, it landed with more of a plop than a splash. After securing some of the biggest names in baseball, they were still left needing a starter for the back end of the rotation and went with Paxton, a veteran who'd seen better days but came cheaply, especially after LA negotiated his contract down from $11 million to only a guaranteed $7 million due to injury concerns.

Paxton's been giving Dodgers fans whiplash ever since, occasionally sprinkling in scoreless starts that send fans into "we're so back" mode before giving up 3+ runs in a start that sends us back into "we're cooked" territory.

His Sunday start against the Giants was the most deserving of a "we're cooked" mentality of any outing so far this season. He went four innings and gave up 12 hits and nine earned runs, five in the fourth inning before the Dodgers finally took him out. LA's best hitters seemed to be completely worn out from their 16-hit, 14-run night the day before, and only three of their worst hitters (Chris Taylor, Kiké Hernández, and Austin Barnes) could manage to get the bat to the ball in back of Paxton.

With all of their recent injuries to starters, the Dodgers are in the market for another one, but Paxton might be forcing them to work double time for a high-profile addition after his recent performances. "Just another arm" won't cut it anymore.

James Paxton gave one of his worst performances for the Dodgers against the Giants on Sunday afternoon

Paxton's scoreless five innings against the White Sox on June 24 was one of those "we're so back" moments, but that kind of relief never seems to last long with him. He carries a 6.32 ERA over his last seven starts; that number is inflated because of how bad he was on Sunday, but his ERA from the seven games before that — 4.32 — still didn't look pristine.

It only highlights the need for another lefty starter like Garrett Crochet, who is quickly becoming the new apple of the Dodgers' eye. Paxton is the only lefty currently in the Dodgers' rotation, and Clayton Kershaw's innings are bound to be limited even when he returns from injury.

The Dodgers wouldn't be able to ditch Paxton even if they did manage to land Crochet, given how depleted the rotation is right now, but they could give him even more time between starts in an effort to make these blowups just a little more infrequent.

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