James Paxton just showed Seattle Mariners fans why he is the ace of this pitching staff. In what will amount to a tease, as the season has now come to an end, Paxton pitched six shutout innings for the Mariners on Sunday (Oct. 1). In the final game of the regular season, pitching against some great hitters in the lineup of the Los Angeles Angels, Paxton struck out nine batters to put an exclamation mark on his year.

Giving up no runs in six innings of work, Paxton dropped his ERA to 2.98 on the season. He finished with 136 innings pitched in 24 starts, striking out 156 batters and ended with a record of 12-5.

This was certainly the best season he has had with the Mariners, but the team really needs for him to get closer to 32 starts during the 2018 MLB season.

Will Paxton ever stay healthy?

It was a bittersweet day for Seattle Mariners fans, as James Paxton showed exactly what he can do on the mound when he is healthy. The problem is that he has been unable to stay healthy since the Mariners promoted him from the minor leagues. Frequent trips to the disabled list are starting to become too familiar and something that Mariners fans have started to dread.

It’s very clear that Paxton has taken over the role of ace from Felix Hernandez. Paxton is the best starting pitcher on the roster and that is likely to remain the case for next year as well.

What the Mariners need is for him to stay on the roster for an entire season, eating up innings and striking out opposing hitters at will. That would not only save the bullpen but allow the team to accentuate the starting rotation with other arms.

Will the Mariners improve the starting rotation?

Getting a healthy James Paxton back in the starting rotation is the first major step that the Seattle Mariners need to take for next year.

Fans also hope that the Mariners will go after one of the big names available in free agency. Adding someone like Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta to the staff could give them a huge push, but both guys are going to get huge contracts during the offseason.

General manager Jerry Dipoto did do a good job at getting Mike Leake away from the St.

Louis Cardinals. He looked very good down the stretch and could have a spot in the rotation saved for him. There are a lot of question marks after Paxton and Leake, especially since it is unclear what Felix Hernandez has left in the tank. It will be important for the front office to fill out the staff with reliable arms, otherwise, next year could be an encore presentation of the 2017 Mariners.