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John Smoltz sees ‘dominant, frontline starter’ in Mariners’ James Paxton

Hall of Famer John Smoltz sees similarities between James Paxton and Andy Pettitte. (AP)

One of the people Mariners pitcher James Paxton was most excited to hear from after his no-hitter was former Yankees great Andy Pettitte, as he told Brock and Salk on Wednesday. Interestingly enough, another legendary former pitcher sees a similarity between those two left-handers.

M’s pitching coach was in no mood for jokes during Paxton’s no-hitter

“I think he has a unique ability to throw a baseball with a heavy arsenal of pitches, (and) he’s tough to see because of the way he throws,” Baseball Hall of Famer and FOX Sports MLB analyst John Smoltz told Brock and Salk. “He reminds me a lot – about three-quarters of his rotation reminds me of Andy Pettitte. Andy Pettitte did not have the velocity that (Paxton has), but we all know what he was able to do and the longevity of his career.”

Smoltz has a high opinion of Paxton and thinks that it’s only a matter of staying healthy for the Mariners’ Big Maple to take his place among the top pitchers in the game today.

“I’m a big fan of his,” Smoltz said of Paxton. “I think he’s one of the most dominant pitchers that has yet to be kinda thrust into prominence… He has all the attributes of a dominant, frontline starter. It’s just really all about health.”

Smoltz thinks that the health factor with Seattle’s entire starting rotation, not just Paxton specifically, is all that has held the Mariners back from breaking through into the playoffs in recent years.

“For the Seattle Mariners that’s really what it’s been – for their lack of playoff appearances, you can probably say because the starting rotation has yet to develop and be healthy. It’s not that they don’t have the pieces.”

You can hear the full interview with Smoltz in this podcast of Brock and Salk’s second hour Thursday.

Paxton praises teammates for ‘surreal’ no-hitter