James Paxton threw a career-high 160 1/3 innings with the Mariners last season, 24 1/3 innings more than his previous high the year before.
Now that he's with the Yankees, Paxton has a loftier goal.
"My goal is to get to the 200-inning range," Paxton said, according to the New York Post's Joel Sherman. "I understand the bullpening and leverage, but I wonder if those relievers who are being pushed to constant two- and three-inning stints will run out of gas. I think it is still up to starters to provide innings."
While the Yankees' bullpen is a major strength and features the likes of Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Adam Ottavino, Zack Britton and Chad Green, Paxton wants New York's rotation to not have to rely on the bullpen to close out games.
"I think we're going to be really good," Paxton said last week.
Of course, the Yankees have Luis Severino in front of the rotation and have a healthy Masahiro Tanaka returning. They re-signed J.A. Happ and CC Sabathia in the offseason as well, but Paxton was the biggest acquisition.
The Yankees dealt three prospects, including top pitching prospect Justus Sheffield, to Seattle for Paxton, who went 11-6 with a 3.76 ERA in 28 starts last year. In 2017, he went 12-5 with a 2.98 ERA, and he has yet to post an ERA higher than 4.00 since debuting in 2013.
"He's got a chance to really make a nice addition to this staff," pitching coach Larry Rothschild said last week.
The biggest concern for Paxton is his ability to stay healthy. He has only thrown more than 125 innings just twice -- the past two years -- and spent some time on the disabled list last year as well.
But Paxton hasn't dealt with major elbow or shoulder surgery.
His injury history, NJ Advance Media's Brendan Kuty notes, includes back inflammation and getting hit with a line drive in his left forearm last year, a forearm strain and pectoral strain in 2017, getting hit with a line drive in 2016; a left finger tendon strain in 2015 and a lat strain in 2014.
"I continue to try to work toward being healthy for an entire season," Paxton told Kuty in November. "I feel like I've been lucky I haven't had any really bad injuries as far as elbow, shoulder, that kind of stuff."
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he has paid attention to the trend of using openers -- relievers to start the first inning or two to face the opponents' 1-6 hitters and then bring in the prototypical starting pitcher -- but has also said he thinks the current methodology is impactful.
"There still is a tremendous value in having quality starting pitching," Boone said, according to Sherman. "Those innings are humongous."
Paxton would need to throw nearly 40 more innings compared to 2018 to reach 200, which could put him at risk for injuries. But a jump like that isn't unheard of.
Severino, for example, threw 151 1/3 innings in 2016 (in the majors and minors), then threw 193 1/3 innings in 2017. In 2018, he threw 191 1/3 innings, but for a while was on pace to eclipse 200.
But Paxton believes since his injury history doesn't include any ligament damage, he will be in good shape for the spring.
"I've learned how to make sure those things don't happen again through exercise or whatever," Paxton told Kuty, "and I'm doing everything I can to prepare myself and be ready for an entire season."