Although his 5.02 ERA doesn’t tell the whole story, Jameson Taillon has been very solid for the Yankees as a mid-level starter in their rotation this season.
Taillon got off to a bumpy start to his Yankees career, but has since bounced back with a 3.18 ERA in the month of May, entering play on Thursday. He also earned his first victory in two years against the Detroit Tigers on May 1.
Durability was an additional concern for the former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher, who underwent surgery toward the end of the 2019 season to repair a flexor tendon along with a UCL revision, which knocked him out for the entire 2020 season. But Taillon has looked healthy in his first six starts this year for the Yankees.
In his first two outings this season, Taillon gave up seven runs in 8.1 innings, while failing to reach the fifth inning mark. This brought along another worry due to the lack of length and production. However, in his last four starts—spanning 20.1 innings—Taillon has posted a 4.02 ERA and surpassed the fifth inning in three out of four outings.
The Yankees don’t need Taillon to be a top of the rotation starter. What they do need is a reliable mid-rotation arm, and Taillon is proving to be just that.
His last start was arguably his best. Taillon went 6.1 innings, allowing three runs on three hits, while striking out five and issuing one walk in a no-decision against the Washington Nationals. So far, his only major blip has been the long ball, surrendering seven in six starts.
Taking a closer look, Taillon has been great when it comes to his xwOBA, xERA, K%, BB%, xBA and chase rate, per Baseball Savant. These promising categories are a result of Taillon’s impressive spin rate on his fastball and curveball, which are each in the 83rd and 84th percentile in MLB.
What must improve is his hard-hit rate, max and average exit velocity and barrel percentage, all of which are either at or below league average. As previously mentioned, the home run ball has hurt him throughout the early part of this season, as well.
Taillon relies on four pitches including a four-seam fastball, which he throws 48.4% of the time. He uses his slider 26.1% of the time, his curve at 22.1% and his changeup only 3.4% of the time. While he has only gotten three strikeouts out of it, his best pitch is his 87-mph slider, which has drawn a batting average of .167. Taillon’s four-seam has an average velocity of 93.6-mph and is the pitch that has seen five balls leave the yard.
Now, with the Yankees entering a crucial series with their AL East rival Tampa Bay Rays, Taillon will get the ball in the third game. And if the Yankees have a chance to pick up a series win, should the final contest turn into a rubber match, Taillon is a solid option to lead the charge in capping things off, given his recent success.
Taillon has faced the Rays only one time in his career, which came back in 2017. During this outing, the right-hander hurled 6.1 scoreless innings helping the Pirates earn a victory.
The Yankees will hope that Taillon can replicate this success in their series finale and build some momentum off a similar performance in his last start.
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