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Who Is: Jameson Taillon (RHP)?

After the Yankees made a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates yesterday, it seems as though the 2021 starting rotation is complete. The two franchises have made many trades in recent history, with 8 trades during the 2010’s. With the new acquisition of Jameson Taillon, let’s look into how he has gotten here.


The History of Jameson Taillon:

Coming out of The Woodlands High School in The Woodlands, Texas, Taillon was the top prep pitcher coming into the 2010 draft and had such a high prospect stock that the Pittsburgh Pirates not only used a 1st Round Pick, but the 2nd Overall Pick on the young right-handed pitcher. He ultimately signed on to play professional ball and skip his commitment to Rice University with a $6.5 Million signing bonus.

He would start his career in 2011 and had high expectations as he ranked #8 by Baseball Prospectus and #11 by Baseball America before he even played a game. Taillon started his first professional season with Single-A West Virginia, ultimately going 2-3 over 23 starts with a 3.98 ERA and 92.2 innings pitched. Going into 2012, Taillon ranked #8 by MLB, #13 by BP, and #15 by BA before pitching in Class A+ Bradenton and Double-A Altoona to a combined 9-8 record over 26 starts with a 2.80 ERA and 146.0 innings. As well see, there is a trend behind Taillon with high prospect rankings and good seasons as in 2013 he ranked #15 by MLB, #11 by BP, and #19 by BA before pitching again with Double-A Altoona and making it to Triple-A Indianapolis by seasons end with a combined 5-10 record over 25 starts (26 games) and a 3.73 ERA over 147.1 innings. Everything was looking great going into 2014 with prospect ranks at #16 by MLB, #19 by BP, and #22 by BA but then the injuries started.

In April 2014, Taillon had his first Tommy John surgery which kept him out for the entire season.

In 2015, while recovering from TJS, Taillon suffered a sports hernia that also caused him to miss the entire season.

However, Taillon would return in 2016. After falling off of both BP’s and BA’s top prospect lists, still had him ranked #54 after two missed seasons and Taillon started the year back in Triple-A Indianapolis. after 10 starts with a 2.04 ERA, Taillon made his MLB debut on June 8th, 2016. He would finish the season with Pittsburgh after 18 starts and a 3.38 ERA.

2017 brought more pain for Taillon, as after a successful start to the season in Pittsburgh he got diagnosed with testicular cancer and had to take nearly 2 months away from the game. After his recovery, he would finish the season with 25 starts an 8-7 record and a 4.44 ERA.

His 2018 campaign looked to be promising again as he played through the full season while entirely with Pittsburgh at the MLB level. He had a 14-10 record over 32 starts with a 3.20 ERA over 191.0 innings. He was finally getting his moments to shine.

And then, in 2019 after 7 slower starts with a 4.10 ERA, Taillon ended up on the IL again with a forearm injury. Ultimately, it would come out that he needed to get a second Tommy John surgery which happened that August. Since then, Taillon has been rehabbing but missed the remainder of the 2019 season and all of the 2020 season.


The Stats of Jameson Taillon:

Over his very interesting 4-year MLB career, Jameson Taillon has combined to pitch to a 29-24 record over 82 starts combined with a 3.67 ERA (3.55 FIP) over 466.0 innings, a 1.247 WHIP, 419 strikeouts (8.1 K/9), and a 112 ERA+.

Overall, he has been a great pitcher…when he has been able to pitch. And because of these many breaks in his statistics over the years, it is hard to evaluate what he should be expected for in 2021.

In his full 2018 season he went 14-10 over 32 starts with a 3.20 ERA (3.46 FIP), over 191.0 innings, a 1.178 WHIP, 179 strikeouts (8.4 K/9), and a 122 ERA+. In his shortened 2019 campaign he went 2-3 over 7 starts with a 4.10 ERA (3.80 FIP) over 37.1 innings, a 1.125 WHIP, 30 strikeouts (7.2 K/9), and a 106 ERA+. However, trying to look at stats from 3 seasons ago or stats that were likely influenced by an unhealthy arm are had to then project from. That doesn’t mean people aren’t trying, however.

Baseball Reference has Taillon penned for a 4-4 record with a 3.94 ERA, 64.0 innings, a 1.250 WHIP, and 61 strikeouts (8.6 K/9). Fangraphs’ ZiPS system has him pitching a more complete season but slightly worse season to a 6-6 record with a 4.23 ERA (4.25 FIP), 106.3 innings, a 1.27 WHIP, and 89 strikeouts.


What Should the Yankees Expect?

I think there is a lot to be hopeful for with Taillon. I know it sounds a little crazy and a little bit too much of me “looking through rose-colored glasses”, but I honestly think he is going to have a successful season for the Yankees. What that means exactly could be a variety of different things, but I’ll try and narrow it down.

After two TJS’s, a major sports hernia, and testicular cancer I don’t think there is anything out there that Jameson Taillon can be scared of. At this point he has been to some of the lowest places you can be as an athlete and as a person, yet he continued and continues to push through the strife and work hard. Maybe it’s that I admire that spirit, but I think good things come to those who work hard. He has a long track record of promise and a good track record of success in the MLB. He could still achieve that stardom.

On Twitter, I saw that Sung Min Kim highlighted a very important thing from Taillon in his pitching back in 2019 and his rehab pitching early in 2021. He has made a considerable change in how far back his arm and elbow reach during his throwing motion- an increasingly common trend for pitchers- and that may help with his ability to keep himself healthy over the season.

Something curious I noticed. Jameson Taillon’s arm action: left is from 2019, and right is from his bullpen from Jan. 16, 2021 (both when front foot touches). much shorter and concise arm action. there’s been a noticeable trend of certain pitchers shortening up their arm actions. — Sung Min Kim (@sung_minkim) January 24, 2021

It’s those small things that make me optimistic for what Taillon can do in 2021. Combined with high praise from the Yankees $324 Million Dollar Man in Gerrit Cole, and high praise from journalists across Twitter in the aftermath of the trade, I am hopeful.


Article By: Ethan Semendinger

Date Published: January 25th, 2021


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