The Next Steps in Jameson Taillon’s Tommy John Rehab Process

Jameson Taillon threw a bullpen session yesterday, which I outlined in the daily recap. Taillon is still in “rehab mode” as Clint Hurdle put it, which means he is still only throwing bullpen sessions on Tuesday and Friday, and still only at 25 pitches per session.

One positive sign yesterday was that Taillon was using his curveball and changeup in the bullpen. This was the first time he used the curveball in the bullpen during his rehab process, and he said the feel for the pitch was good. The video below shows a few of the curveballs he threw, and there are definitely some command issues, as you can see with the first curve toward the end of the video. When you consider that he hasn’t thrown a curve off the mound in almost a year, it puts things in perspective, and shows that he’s doing well, especially when he can break off a pitch like the second curve shown (which came immediately after the first one, just as it does in the video).

Taillon said that he’s feeling strong. His pitch count is still at 25, and should be at 25 on Friday. He might move up to 30 pitches next week. As for when he could progress to live batting practice, he said that he’s not sure of the exact date, but that it could happen in a few weeks. Before that happens, he will probably need about 3-4 more bullpen sessions where he’s throwing all of his pitches, and he will need to up his pitch count. His normal pitch count in a bullpen, when healthy, is 35-40 pitches.

Since he’s only throwing twice a week, the 3-4 more bullpen sessions would put him at least another week and a half without live batting practice. If he needs to up his pitch count before live BP, then you can expect at least another week after that. That means he probably won’t be throwing live batting practice until the middle of March.

I’ve been reporting for two months that Taillon will take it slow in his rehab, and will start the season in extended Spring Training. I wouldn’t expect him to see much action this Spring, with most of his work limited to live BPs. At most, he will see a game in minor league camp, where his pitch count can be controlled to the extreme. Minor league camp games are informal, allowing an inning to finish early if a pitcher reaches his pitch count, and then allowing that pitcher to go back out the next inning, despite not getting three outs in the previous inning. That’s the perfect situation for Taillon to be re-introduced to games.

Below is a video of my discussion with Taillon this morning about his rehab process, along with a few clips of him throwing his bullpen session yesterday.

  • Doesn’t it seem some pitchers recover from TJ surgery within 1 year? I wonder why the general perception is that Taillon, having missed all of 2014, will now also miss most of 2015. That seems like a slow recovery. No?

    • Actually, recovery should take 12 to 18 months. Taillon seems to be progressing normally, he’s building strength and getting his arm used to pitching again.
      .
      I’d be concerned if he wasn’t even throwing yet.

    • As part of their efforts to be a “model organization”, the Bucks took part in some ground-breaking research on ACL Pitcher injuries. As a result of this work, they now feel a pitcher actually should get 15 months of rehab, instead of the regular 12 most teams are doing. They believe this will significantly increase the likelyhood of a full recovery.

      That puts Taillon into mid-season before he starts pitching in AAA ball. It’s highly unlikely we see Taillon in a Bucks uniform this year, but more likely we see him in one next year. Make sense?

    • It is slow. The Pirates are thinking about the long-term with Taillon, rather than trying to get a few extra months in the short-term.

  • I think 2015 will likely be another lost year for him – he will spend most of the season rehabbing and just trying to get back to where he was…if gets into the Indy rotation by July 1, I will be surprised.

    • Thats a ridiculous comment

      • How is that ridiculous? Have you paid any attention to Dylan Bundy?

        • typical recovery time for a pitcher is 11 to 15 months. July would be the tail end of that. If Taillon is progessing according to expectations, but at the same time the Pirates are moving him conservatively, then June or July is a reasonable expectation for game action.

          Bundy is only one of many who have undergone TJS and his results may not be typical.

    • It’s not going to be a lost year for him. Last year was a lost year where he didn’t pitch at all. This year he’s pitching. He’ll be throwing in extended Spring Training, and possibly in Bradenton. He will eventually join Indianapolis, and could reach the majors by the end of the year. A lost year wouldn’t include any pitching.

      I won’t be surprised at all if he’s in Indy by July 1st.

      • I agree Tim its not a lost year as far as not being able to pitch at all, but it will largely be a lost year in terms of the potential of being a threat to make the Pirates rotation this year. They will be very cautious with him – and rightfully so – so, I would not expect a very fast progression from where he is now to throwing live pitches at AAA batters in a real game. I hope you are right, and that he there by 7/1, but i will be pleasantly surprised if he is. I will be surprised if he is pitching in any real games for an extended period before 6/1.

  • Excellent reporting on something no one else is getting, this is what makes this site must read daily.

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