James Paxton’s key adjustment with Dodgers has him regaining his former glory

Los Angeles Dodgers v New York Mets
Los Angeles Dodgers v New York Mets / Luke Hales/GettyImages

Although he only gave three runs in five innings that day, James Paxton's April 14 start against the Padres was arguably the worst of his outings as a Dodger. Only three runners crossed home plate under his watch, but he also gave up a whopping eight walks to consistently keep runners on base and Dodgers fans on the edges of their seats.

The Dodgers went on to lose that game, and although thegame-winning three-run double to Jurickson Profar wasn't Paxton's fault, the two runners on base who scored after his departure to tie the game were only on the base paths thanks to the lefty's shaky control.

Conversely, his best start so far came on May 11 against the Reds, when he went six innings and only gave up four hits, no runs and, very importantly, no walks.

He's been considerably better in the walk and control departments since that April outing, and had three walk-less starts in the month of May. Paxton's never been much of a strikeout guy, even less so in his age 35 season, but he's been more able to keep the ball on the ground or within the easy reach of his outfielders. He's also been willing and quick to make adjustments to his delivery to get his control back, which has already lent itself to more consistency in his outings.

James Paxton's delivery adjustments have allowed him to adapt for Dodgers and look better than he has in years

Paxton's best years on the mound took place back in Seattle from 2017 to 2019, when he pitched 136-160 innings with two complete games (one a shutout in 2018). He's always relied primarily on his fastball, which is especially true this season, after he and the Dodgers decided to take the cutter out of his arsenal while they make adjustments to it. Paxton said, "I don’t really know where it is. I’m trying to figure it out. We’re playing catch with it, throwing it in the bullpen and stuff like that, and I just haven’t been able to find it yet."

His fastball has also lost a lot of its velocity as he's gotten older, but he's worked with the Dodgers to find new ways to make it effective. The key ended up being a change in the rhythm of his delivery, which contributed heavily to the vast improvements he saw throughout May.

His last start that month was kept to three innings in order to preserve his arm, but he only gave up two hits during that time as the Dodgers routed the Mets 10-3. Paxton's days of being a No. 1 guy are well behind him, but he's clearly working hard to hold up the back end of the rotation.