Injury Updates: Rehab Plans For Taillon, Holmes, and Eppler; Lakind Update

Jameson Taillon is now on a five day schedule, and getting closer to a return to Indianapolis. The right-hander went three innings today, giving up two hits, no runs, no walks, and striking out three. He sat 92-94 MPH with his fastball, touching 95 once and 96 once. He threw 32 pitches, with 25 strikes.

The typical rehab and buildup for pitchers sees a guy add an inning each start, then head out to a full-season league after a five inning start. That would give Taillon two more starts in extended Spring Training before he would be done. However, his situation might not be typical, and there’s no guarantee he’d be done with his rehab after five innings.

“That’s what I’m shooting for, but ultimately they’ve seen more guys go through rehab,” Taillon said. “I trust that they have a pretty good idea, they know what they’re looking for. When they think I’m ready, I’ll be ready. But the sooner the better for me.”

He noted that he might not go to Indianapolis right away, but instead could make a start in Bradenton or Altoona before going to Triple-A. Taillon admitted he hasn’t talked to the Pirates about that step.

“Just based off of what other guys do, I’d guess I’d probably make a start somewhere else first, whether that’s Bradenton or Altoona,” Taillon said. “I think the thought behind that is it’s just a lot to send someone from these chain link fences to the lights.”

He will complete his buildup in extended Spring Training. The current schedule has him going four innings on Tuesday, and five innings the following Monday, since there are no extended Spring Training games on Sundays. That could put him in line to play with a full-season team on June 13th.

Holmes Throws Against Real Opponents For the First Time

Clay Holmes also pitched today, throwing one inning in his first game against an opponent with a different uniform. The inning was perfect, with Holmes throwing 15 pitches, 9 for strikes, and sitting 92-93 MPH, touching 94. Holmes is also on a five-day schedule now, and will continue pitching the same day as Taillon. He will go two innings his next time out, followed by three innings on the 8th of June. From there, he will extend to four and five innings before joining the Bradenton Marauders.

Holmes was ahead of Taillon in his rehab during Spring Training, since his Tommy John surgery came a few weeks before Taillon’s in 2014. He’s now behind Taillon, due to a setback.

“There was a point where they kind of took a little bit off, and kind of slowed down a little bit,” Holmes said. “I took a little bit there, and that kind of slowed me up, and rebuilt back up from there.”

The move was to give Holmes some rest, and give his arm a rest so that he could finish out the year. It doesn’t seem like it’s a long-term thing, since he’s back to pitching now, and to the point where he’s facing live opponents. That will continue on Tuesday.

Tyler Eppler Also Close to a Return

In another extended Spring Training game today, Tyler Eppler went three innings. He threw 44 pitches, with 25 strikes, and sat 91-93 MPH with his fastball. Eppler was selected in the sixth round of the 2014 draft, and put up some strong numbers last year. He was expected to make the jump to Bradenton, skipping over West Virginia, which is a move the Pirates have reserved for advanced college pitchers like Adrian Sampson and Chad Kuhl.

Eppler will still go to Bradenton when his rehab work is done. His next outing will be on Tuesday, and will see him go four innings. He will follow that up with five innings on Monday, June 8th. After that, he’s expected to join the Marauders, which would put his debut on Saturday, June 13th. Obviously that would be the same date as Taillon’s debut, if Taillon leaves extended Spring Training after his five inning outing. So Eppler could move off that date and be pushed back a day, or Taillon could go to Altoona. That information will probably be known closer to the date.

Lakind Recovering From Leg Surgery

Jared Lakind was an over-slot first baseman taken in the 2010 draft, but switched over to the mound to be a lefty reliever in 2013 after his hitting career stalled. He pitched for West Virginia briefly last year, but struggled and was sent down to Jamestown, where he put up some strong numbers. He returned to West Virginia at the end of July, and put up a 1.54 ERA in 11.2 innings, with a 14:3 K/BB ratio.

The lefty was slated to go to Bradenton this year, but has spent the first two months on the disabled list. He had surgery in Spring Training to remove a cyst that grew on his sciatic nerve in his leg. Lakind said that at first he thought it was regular pain, but then he woke up and couldn’t walk, with his leg dragging.

The surgery put him out until a month after Spring Training, at which point he returned to Pirate City and started building back up.

“It’s feeling good,” Lakind said of the injury. “I throw my second full bullpen tomorrow.”

He said that he expects to throw a sim game and a live BP next week, and is hoping to get into games after that. Extended Spring Training will be wrapping up soon, but Lakind could stay behind and get some innings in a few intrasquad games the Pirates will be holding between the end of extended and the start of the GCL season. He could still go to Bradenton when he’s ready, although that’s up in the air right now.

  • I can’t stop thinking about the rotation that we have to look forward to. The main stream media can’t shut up about how talented the Cubs are saying they are going to be the best team in the Central for a long time. If i’m not wrong the Pirates are pretty young and talented offensively and they have a future homegrown rotation the Cubs can’t come close to matching. Good pitching always beats good hitting

    • I think many assume the Cubs will add another TOR arm soon, and thus that rotation goes from decent to very good. I certainly like the outlook of PIT, but its hard not to look at CHC and think “damn”. A load of talent all very young on offense, and a not totally pathetic rotation likely to add another big name. It’ll get interesting money wise at some point, but with so much of their offense likely to be cheap for at least 2-3 years, CHC has a nice future.

      There will be a good deal of SP depth in the FA market this coming offseason, so CHC can add at least a solid #2 behind Lester and head into next season with a solid rotation and a bit of experience for most of its young talent. Even if its not David Price, CHC could go add a Jordan Zimmerman and make me hate life for a few days. Or Cueto.

    • One thing about the Baseball Media is how they can’t stop drooling over the Cubs…..but then turn around later talking about the ” Cardinal Way ” and how they will dominate forever.

  • Thanks tim.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    May 28, 2015 4:09 pm

    Any idea on when Supak, Keller, or Hinz might be pitching in real games? I thought Keller as a candidate for WV, with the other two going to Morgantown or Bristol….

    • John Dreker
      May 28, 2015 8:32 pm

      They will pitch in real games next month when Bristol/Morgantown start their season. For now they are just getting their work in, getting ready for the season. Pirates have only sent one pitcher from HS to full-season ball in their first full year and that was Taillon. Even he was delayed a little bit to keep his innings down.

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        May 28, 2015 9:01 pm

        Sounds like one of those short season teams may have a pretty good starting rotation, if all 3 of those guys go to the same team…

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    May 28, 2015 4:08 pm

    Encouraging news regarding Taillon and Holmes, to ease the sting of TJS for Kingham….

  • Eric Marshall
    May 28, 2015 3:40 pm

    Any word on Greg Hinz (SP)? Haven’t seen anything on him… hopefully didn’t miss something earlier with all the reporting.

  • Again, what takes our Pirates Tommy John patients so much longer than what is otherwise “typical?”

    • The Pirates have a cautious approach.

      • Cautious or overly cautious? It seems like the recurrence rates are extremely small and that pitchers in other organizations get back on the mound much, much earlier. Being cautious is one thing, but this seems overly so. Taillon and Holmes have lost a lot of development time.

        • If they are “overly cautious” is that a bad thing? In Taillon’s case, his return is delayed about two months. Does that time really matter when thinking about long-term production?

          And if you look back at Morton, he returned one year later, but his command was inconsistent for about two months after returning, and then he hit his stride. So the one-year mark might not be such a good thing.

        • One in five pitchers don’t make it back from Tommy John surgery. The Bucs have studied it hard, and determined a slower approach improves those odds.

          Yet another example of our cutting edge management team.

          • 1 in 5? 20%? Would love to see a link to that study…

          • Luke sutton
            May 29, 2015 3:52 pm

            The issue with studies on TJ is that nearly all of them study players already in the majors and if they return or not. I’ve seen studies that have return rates at 80% for ML players who have it, but up to 90% for all pitchers. And even those studies are really new and tough to trust a ton without consistent repetition of the results.

            Anywhere from 80-90% of guys who have TJ come back to pitch in some fashion, so thats a quality percent for a surgery of this kind and another reason to have as many pitching prospects as possible. Bring in 3-5 quality pitching prospects and 2-4 are gonna make it.

  • Christopher B
    May 28, 2015 1:37 pm

    I like seeing these starters recovering from Tommy John both getting decent velocity and, perhaps more importantly, throwing a lot of strikes. That often indicates their mechanics are more or less in order. Keep up the good work!