Paxton Strikes Out Dairy

This season is going to be different for James Paxton and the Seattle Mariners.

Entering his sixth season with the club, Paxton is yet to play an entire season and pitch more than 200 innings which is a lofty goal considering Paxton’s career-high of 136.0 innings pitched. With a few quality starts he’ll be halfway there already.

Fans may remember the rash of injuries the Mariners pitching staff suffered last season. Paxton sure does, he spent more than a month on the disabled list. With 200 innings set as a goal, Paxton wanted to make a change coming into this season.

So what’s different?

Paxton made the decision prior to this season to eschew dairy from his diet and instead choose almond milk. In Ryan Divish’s February Seattle Times (article) Paxton discusses how he believes the change will benefit himself; and the Mariners, to a successful season.

“The Big Maple” underwent blood tests to see if changing his diet in any way could benefit his short-term and long-term health. What the tests showed is that cow’s milk was causing inflammation in Paxton’s joints, precipitating the change.

“It’s all about limiting the amount of inflammation your body experiences after starts and in between them,” he said. “If I can just find more of those little things that can add up to me staying healthy, that’s the goal. That’s one of the things I’m going to be paying attention to and try to limit or completely eliminate from my diet.”

Mariners manager Scott Servais is on board with the changes to Paxton’s diet. Why wouldn’t he be? As of June 6, the hard-throwing Paxton has appeared in 13 of 13 possible starts, owns a 2.95 earned run average and has been an integral part of the Mariners early season charge.

Servais referred to New England quarterback Tom Brady when asked about Paxton’s dietary realignment. Last season, Brady led the Patriots to a Super Bowl appearance at age 40.

“These guys are smart,” Servais said. “They look at this stuff. What are these athletes doing? How is (Brady) still performing at age 40? I’m sure Paxton would love to be pitching when he’s 40. If this can somehow extend the window, why not?”

Paxton isn’t completely sure the switch to almond milk is the reason but he says the change has made him feel good.

“I imagine if I went back to drinking milk a lot, I’d probably tell the difference,” Paxton said. “Right now, I’m feeling good. I think it might be part of it. But I can’t really tell.”

The hard part; according to Paxton, is dealing with his in-laws who are native to Wisconsin…cheese country.

Back in Seattle, just beyond center field, the Mariners flag flies proudly in first place ahead of the reigning American League champion Astros and others. While the Mariners have shown the ability to score runs, pitching; Paxton specifically, has buoyed the team and given promise to meaningful games in September.

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