The Seattle Mariners have placed 25-year-old lefty James Paxton on the 15-day disabled list with a strained back muscle, according to Bob Dutton of The Tacoma News Tribune. In a corresponding move, Seattle has called up fellow southpaw Lucas Luetge from Triple-A Tacoma. Manager Lloyd McClendon also announced that the 34-year-old Chris Young will take Paxton's spot in the rotation for the time being.
Paxton reportedly felt a tweak in his lower back during Tuesday night's 5-3 win over the Angels, in which he pitched five innings, allowing three runs on four hits to go along with four strikeouts. An MRI later confirmed that Paxton had strained his left latissimus dorsi muscle. The team plans to reevaluate Paxton's back following his initial 15-day DL stint.
Paxton has pitched brilliantly for the Mariners in 6 big league starts since being called up last September, allowing just seven runs and striking out 34 in 36 innings pitched. He was particularly excellent in his first start of the season on April 2nd, also against the Angels, when he struck out nine and allowed just two hits in seven shutout innings.
The 68th best prospect in baseball (per Baseball Prospectus) entering the season, Paxton has performed well in the minors with a career 3.48 ERA and 9.6 K/9 in 364.2 innings pitched. The 2010 fourth-rounder boasts a blistering fastball and plus curveball, but struggles with sub-par command (4.0 BB/9 in minors) and inconsistent secondary stuff, leading many to believe his future lies closer to the back of a rotation rather than the front.
The Mariners have been plagued by injuries to their starting pitchers this year, with Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker both opening the season on the DL. Fortunately for Seattle, Iwakuma threw off a mound for the first time since February on Wednesday, and Walker appears ready to rejoin the rotation sometime next week after striking out 10 and allowing no runs in a rehab start for Double-A Jackson last night.