You Shouldn’t Be Surprised by the Jameson Taillon/Gerrit Cole Comparisons

On Friday the Pittsburgh Pirates marched out Gerrit Cole, followed by Jameson Taillon, in a preview of what could be their number one and two in the Major League rotation for the next several years. The back to back appearances allowed for quick comparisons, including this interesting note from Jayson Stark.

It’s not really a big surprise that one scout likes Taillon more than Cole. He’s a talented pitcher, and scout opinions are not universal. There’s bound to be one scout who likes Taillon more than Cole. I’d be surprised if there was only one scout that thought this.

The comment sparked a discussion on Twitter. Travis Sawchik of the Trib shared a similar story with a scout liking Taillon more than Cole.

JJ Cooper of Baseball America also had an interesting response from a poll when both were in the FSL together.

The reason this got a big reaction is twofold. One obvious reason is that Cole had a great 2013 season, looked like an ace at the end of the year, and now Taillon looks like he’ll be up by mid-season this year. If Taillon is the same as Cole, or better, then the Pirates will be in great shape this year and for the next several years.

I believe another reason for the big reaction is that people weren’t expecting this. Cole and Taillon have had very similar stories. They both were projected as future top of the rotation starters. They both had high velocity fastballs that were too hittable at times. They both focused on solving the fastball problem in the minors, which means their focus wasn’t on putting up ace-like numbers. The lack of those strong numbers means that people were down on both players, and doubted whether they could live up to their top of the rotation projections.

Most of this was because people only saw the numbers, and didn’t see the stuff in action, especially while imagining what it could be like when the training wheels came off. Last year the training wheels came off for Gerrit Cole, and we saw the results. I think the fact that we’ve seen results for Cole, and haven’t seen results for Taillon, is why people seem pleasantly surprised that Taillon is still regarded as being as good as Cole or better. The training wheels aren’t off yet for Taillon, and most of the perception on him is still numbers driven.

About a month ago I wrote about the things Jameson Taillon has been working on in the minors. He hasn’t been working on the numbers. He’s been working on reducing a drop in his delivery to prevent flattening his fastball out. He’s been working on his changeup. He’s been working on adding a two-seam fastball back to his mix, to give hitters a different look and prevent them from waiting on the curveball and sitting on the fastball. Once all of that comes together, I’d expect Taillon to be the 2014 version of Cole. And at that point, people won’t be surprised that Taillon is so comparable to Cole.

The good thing for the Pirates is that, no matter who wins the “who is better” debate, the Pirates win by having both in the rotation.

  • I still think Taillon is going to be better but it doesn’t matter since the Bucs have them both.

  • Watching both Cole and Taillon at AA,I actually had the feeling myself that Taillon was better with his breaking ball and location. And many of the folks I know who have seen them both felt the same way.The one thing that Taillon did not have was the overwhelming velo,but he surely has enough. I even mentioned here in PP several times last season that the Curve’s ” defense ” at the time was horrendous,and really cost both Pimental and Jameson with their traditional numbers while in Altoona.This is certainly no attempt to downgrade Cole,but to point out just what they should look like in the rotation together. Man ! I can hardly wait !!!

    • I am not saying that I am looking at trading either Cole or Taillon, but the better that Taillon performs, the less interested the Pirates need to be about holding onto some other SP’s. I look for 2015 to feature the entire work of art that is the developmental system of the Pirates with Cole, Taillon, Morton, Locke, and one of the following -Cumpton, Gomez, Pimental, Kingham, McPherson, or Wilson. Right now two big spenders could be looking for help in the Rotation – the Yankees and the Mariners.

      • I hear what you are saying emjay. As long as it isn’t Kingham,Pimental or Wilson for that matter. But I did have to smile thinking about any prospective deal with the Yankees. Who the heck do they have right now in the entire oginization that the Bucs could use ? Maybe Tex,but that’s about it.

  • CAUTION – don’t get too far ahead of ourselves

    Exhibit A (just announced)

    Top Twins prospect Miguel Sano will have Tommy John surgery, La Velle E. Neal III of reports. Via’s Rhett Bollinger (on Twitter), the Twins have since confirmed that Sano will miss the entire 2014 season. Sano has had trouble with his ulnar collateral ligament going back to last season, and he injured it on Thursday while making a throw.

  • Ian Rothermund
    March 1, 2014 1:37 pm

    I think the biggest question mark will be whether or not Cole is able to harness his change up more consistently in games. I think the biggest factor that leads people to believe Taillon could be better is his ability to have a consistent change in addition to the plus breaking ball. I don’t think Cole necessarily needs it, but it was clear that he reached a different level whenever he was able to command that pitch.

  • Oh what a dilemma, having two potentially great pitchers that people can’t decide which one is better. But since they both play for the Pirates I love it!

  • And then add Glasnow and Kingham to the mix in 2015! Hard not to get excited about that.