Dodgers Team News

Dodgers’ Dave Roberts Knew James Paxton Would Be Great For LA Early On After Special Interaction

When the Los Angeles Dodgers were finalizing their roster for the season-opening series against the San Diego Padres in Seoul, South Korea, manager Dave Roberts approached James Paxton to tell him that he wouldn’t be traveling with the team internationally.

Instead of the conversation becoming awkward, Paxton accepted the news and agreed that the decision was logical. He passed on the $70,000 bonus that players receive from Major League Baseball for participating in international events and stayed home to build up his arm strength and stamina without the burden of traveling across the Pacific.

The interaction between the two gave Roberts a calming feeling that Paxton was all-in as a first-year Dodger and would do whatever it took to help the team.

“It gave somebody else an opportunity to go there and pitch and make 70,000 bucks,” Roberts told Jack Harris of the Los Angeles Times. “But his whole point was, ‘Whatever it takes to get me ready.’ And that right there shows me a lot.”

From that moment on, all Paxton has done is win. Paxton, who starts Friday in Cincinnati, is 5-0 with an ERA of 2.84 through his first eight starts of the season. Two starts ago in San Diego was his best yet. Paxton silenced the hostile Padres crowd for six shutout innings in a four-hit, four-strikeout, zero-walk performance.

“Every time he takes the mound,” Roberts said, “he is just putting us in a position to win.”

Before starting in San Diego on May 11, Paxton led the league with 24 walks. He has now gone two consecutive starts without surrendering a free pass and completing six innings.

“Every player is going to say they compete, but this guy just sort of wills himself to success,” Roberts said after Paxton’s last start, Friday against the Reds. “He got two ground-ball double plays that kept his pitch count down. … Even without his best stuff, he goes deep in games and takes care of our bullpen.”

The 10-year veteran has only allowed four runs once this season and has pitched at least six innings in all three starts in May. He continues to strengthen and has proven that he shouldn’t be overlooked as a backend-of-the-rotation guy because he has yet to lose.

Photo Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

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Maren Angus

Maren Angus-Coombs was born in Los Angeles and raised in Nashville, Tenn. She is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and has been a sports writer since 2008. Despite being raised in the South, her sports obsession has always been in Los Angeles. She is currently a staff writer for Dodgers Nation and the LA Sports Report Network.

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