Jameson Taillon was supposed to be one of the better pitchers in baseball. The Pirates selected him as the second overall pick in the 2010 draft and his path to the majors was anything but smooth.
The Pirates right-hander didn’t reach the majors until the age of 24 as he had Tommy John surgery and hernia surgery while in the minor leagues.
Taillon had a 3.38 ERA in 104 innings in 2016 and struggled in 2017 with a 4.44 ERA and 1.48 WHIP in 133.2 innings. The numbers weren’t important as Taillon had to undergo surgery for testicular cancer in May of 2017. He made his last start on May 3 before the surgery.
Amazingly, he returned to pitch on June 12. The poor second half of a 5.96 ERA over 71 innings scared many people away in 2018. I took him in several leagues in the double-digit rounds and it paid off. Taillon lived up to the lofty expectations when he was drafted.
Taillon went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 22.8 percent strikeout rate and a 5.9 percent walk rate. Taillon averaged 95 miles per hour with his fastball, threw a curveball and a changeup, but the big difference was the addition of a slider, which he started throwing last year. The swinging strike rate jumped from 8.2 percent to 10.7 percent. Another area in which Taillon improved was cutting down on walks, going from 7.8 percent to 5.9 percent.
Taillon, who also took a 105-mile per hour line drive off his head, has endured a lot to get to where he is today and while we examine a lot of stats, this is still a game played by human beings and overcoming adversity and thriving shows a lot about Taillon. The mental fortitude you need as a professional player, especially a pitcher is important.
In his last 22 starts, Taillon allowed three earned runs or less in all of them. In 14 of his final 17 starts, he pitched at least six innings. From June 1 until the end of the season, Taillon had a 2.63 ERA over 133.1 innings. Considering 2018 was the season he threw the most innings, it was a positive to see he didn’t get worn down and got better as the season went along. In the final 85 innings, he had a 2.33 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 8.05 K/9 and 1.69 BB/9.
Taillon has said the slider isn’t a finished product and believes he can take a big step forward with that pitcher. Those drafting have the same sentiment.
Taillon has an ADP of 67.26 on fantrax.com as the 21st starting pitcher selected. It might seem high for a player that has one full season, but the talent and pedigree say he’s for real. Taillon is a solid SP2, especially in 15-team leagues. He will be a Top 20 starting pitcher with the ability to break into the SP1 discussion.
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