Jameson Taillon has been diagnosed with an injury to his ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, and will elect to have Tommy John surgery, the team has announced.

I first reported Taillon was shut down a few weeks ago with what he described as “a little bit of elbow discomfort”. The initial MRI he received said the ligament was strong, which suggested the injury could be something in the form of bone chips in his elbow. However, he decided to get a second opinion, and after that opinion, the team and Taillon were both hushed in the results of the second opinion.

The silence following the second opinion raised concerns. After the first opinion, the plan was for Taillon to take two weeks off, then re-evaluate and potentially build up for the season. It became obvious that the second opinion didn’t go well once both parties went silent. The hope was still that it was something minor that wouldn’t put him out for the 2014 season.

Neal Huntington mentioned to the media today that Taillon had a “compromised” UCL, although it was still intact. That sounds like a minor tear, and probably explains why the two sides were debating the next approach over the past week.

Obviously this means that Taillon won’t be up in 2014. The timing of this injury means that Taillon could be back at the start of the 2015 season. However, he is going to still need time in Triple-A, which pushes his expected MLB debut back to around June 2015. Tommy John surgery isn’t the career killer it once was. Almost every pitcher returns from Tommy John about a year later at the level they were at before the injury. So this won’t hurt Taillon’s career in the long-run, but it will obviously delay his arrival in the short-term.

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18 COMMENTS

  1. I think it’s very important to note that Taillon’s clock hasn’t started. This might make this a blessing in disguise. Let’s say he would have come up in June and then they would have diagnosed it. Under my understanding (Tim correct me if I’m wrong), his clock would have kept ticking as he rehabbed. Since he hasn’t been called up yet, this simply pushes back his expected arrival instead of losing years of control… Very important

  2. I have been rooting for Taillon since we drafted him and granted I have never seen him pitch, I still think he will be one of my favorite players when he comes up. I hate this more than anything, but at least the big league club has the depth to fall on. I just wish he was up this season for the playoff push (hopefully!).

    • I got to see him pitch in Bradenton for most of a season. Good pitcher and a great kid. I’m a die-hard Cubbie fan but I hate to see any young player go through this. But I think he’s young and talented enough that he can bounce back.

  3. Its the best move to have the surgery now while the Pirates have so much depth in their major league and minor league pitching. Taillon won’t be missed this year, and he’ll be stronger than ever when we truly need him. The worst thing to have done would have been to wait it out.

  4. now we see the importance of organizational depth…especially at the pitcher position. luckily, the pirates still have locke, cumpton, and potentially someone like kingham in september waiting for when injuries invariably will happen

  5. This is tough. My guess is the Pirates will look for a serious upgrade before the deadline in July. I think they will go after Jeff Samardzija to cover the supposed spot Taillon was going to fill in 2015. If they are aggressive and Liriano has a nice year they still can have a solid rotation until Taillon is ready. Something like:
    Liriano
    Cole
    Morton
    Samardzija
    Locke/Cumpton/Irwin/McPherson (someone has to pan out of this group)

    • I would love the drugs your taking that think we are going to or able to get Samardzija. Why the cubs would trade within in the division or why we would go after him is another reason entirely.

      • Cubs would unload Samardzija for the right deal, regardless of division. I don’t think the guy wants to stay a Cub. A Samardzija/Sheirholtz for Polanco/Cumpton/Welker seems reasonable.

        • There is no way they would trade polanco with such a small wait until he is in the majors. Wishful thinking my friend. The pirates would risk having the best outfield for the next 5 years for a year of a good pitcher that has lapses at times.

  6. Not surprising, quite frankly, given how the second opinion was kept very quiet. Obviously, I wish him well an a very speedy and complete recovery – sometimes pitchers, come back even stronger than before after TJ surgery. It may partly explain his spotty performance last season – maybe it was bothering him, enough to affect his performance?
    Big blow, however, for 2014 – as we will need another starter – maybe two – before the season is over. The depth of the system’s pitching will be tested again – with Taillon and Holmes both done for the year. I do like Cumpton a lot – although he doesn’t have the kind of stuff that wows scouts and fans. He just gets guys out. Maybe Irwin and McPherson can both bounce back and help the MLB team as well this year?

  7. I knew it was going to turn out like this, since the Pirates were so elusive(until now) , of the results of his 2nd opinion.

    Oh well, hope everything goes well, and maybe we see him sometime in Pittsburgh, by the summer of 2015.!

    • Although a return sometime in 2015 is possible, it is also just as likely that he will miss all of next season as well. His recovery period is estimated at 12-18 months……if he does return next year, I suspect it will be in the minors and on a very cautious and slow rehabbing process.

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