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James Paxton out 3-4 months following back procedure

Yankees LHP is set to miss several months to begin 2020 season, leaves hole in rotation.

New York Yankees starting pitcher James Paxton pitches against the Houston Astros during the fifth inning of game five of the 2019 ALCS playoff baseball series at Yankee Stadium.  Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

MLB’s opening day is right around the corner, but one of baseball’s best pitchers is already set to miss a sizable chunk of the season. The New York Yankees announced Wednesday that James Paxton is expected to miss 3-4 months of the year after undergoing an operation to remove a cyst from his back.

This will deal a major blow to New York’s rotation, as Paxton, who joined the team in 2019, went 15-6 as a starter last season with a 3.82 ERA. He also totaled the most strikeouts (186) on the team while giving up the fewer home runs (23) than every other starter.

New York finished first in the American League East last season and went on to lose to the Astros in the World Series. It has added Gerrit Cole to its rotation though and looks like a force to be reckoned with ahead of 2020. The Yankees are the favorites to win the World Series (+350) and to repeat as division (-360) and league (+165) champs. Their over/under for wins is set at 85.5.

Fantasy baseball analysis: Yankees rotation

If you had Paxton in a keeper or dynasty fantasy baseball league, then it may be tough to replace him. A decent option would be to pick up Jordan Montgomery, who missed almost all of 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He’s expected to be healthy entering Spring Training and would be an easy replacement for Pax in the Yanks rotation. The Bronx Bombers will want a a lefty arm now that CC Sabathia has retired. The rotation should look like Gerrit Cole, Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, Domingo German and Jordan Montgomery until Paxton is healthy.