Jameson Taillon Returns, Better Than He Was Before

PITTSBURGH – One of the biggest things I was looking forward to last year was Jameson Taillon’s MLB debut in the second half. It may seem strange talking about that like it was inevitable, but there was a time when it looked exactly that way.

Taillon spent his Tommy John rehab period cleaning up his mechanics. He came back and looked much better than before, with a clean and easy delivery, and downhill plane on his fastball. The latter thing was something that he lacked in the past, with a flat fastball that usually sat up in the zone, making him more hittable than a guy who sits 94-96 MPH should be.

Unfortunately, Taillon went down with a hernia injury right after getting extended to five innings in exhibition games in Florida. Without the hernia surgery, he would have started a rehab assignment, and most likely would have been the option to be called up in late July when the Pirates needed a starter after A.J. Burnett went down with an injury. Taillon might even be in the MLB rotation today if that scenario played out.

Instead, he had the surgery, and went his second full season without showing up in an official box score. That made it look like he lost two years from a far, to those who didn’t see the improvements he made with his mechanics. In fact, some wrote over the off-season that Taillon had two wasted seasons, which the right-hander took exception to, and which Clint Hurdle addressed today in his pre-game presser.

“He didn’t waste one day,” Hurdle said. “He had to pour into something different than he ever poured into before. And that’s a rehab and recovery which takes courage, guts, perseverance. It takes a posse of people to work with him. This guy had to do a bunch of crazy things to get back. And he has, and I was so encouraged by his outing last night.”

Taillon returned to an official box score last night, and showed what everyone couldn’t see from his rehab work in Florida last year. He went six innings, giving up a run on five hits, with no walks and six strikeouts. He was efficient, needing just 85 pitches in the start. His fastball had that downward movement, as you can see in the video below. Also in the video below, the curveball was back.

Hurdle said that Taillon’s outing was one of the first things he looked at this morning. After his media session this morning, he called Taillon to tell him “well done” and to continue what he was doing last night.

In my season preview, I wrote that Taillon is the prospect who could have the biggest impact in Pittsburgh this year. I put him ahead of Tyler Glasnow, as I think his stuff is more MLB ready than Glasnow’s, and all he needs is some time to get re-acclimated against upper level hitters. He also has the stuff that could easily translate to the majors, with a chance to repeat what Gerrit Cole did in 2013 — coming up and putting up league average numbers at first, then adjusting and improving after a month or two in the big leagues.

This could be the year that Taillon finally arrives in the majors. I, for one, can’t wait to see it happen. He’s a guy who I’ve covered for six years now. There were times when he was compared equally to Cole. Now it seems he’s slipped in value, and I think he’s actually at one of his highest values as a prospect in terms of reaching his upside. He started to show that last night. If that continues going forward, then you’ll finally get a chance to see him in the majors this year, possibly by the middle of the season.

  • What’s the velo range on Taillon’s curve? I didn’t realize it was that big of a break. I’ve seen the word slurve to describe it, so I expected more lateral movement.

  • So will Kang replace Mercer being that Mercer is pretty bad and Freese is hitting .390 and plays excellent D?

    • All of what you just said about Freese is untrue.

      • Ah, his defense has been great if you’ve watched at all and he’s crushing – he and Jaso had same numbers well over .300 perhaps not .390 but how about if you are so knowledgeable of the exact data you mention it genius.

        • Especially at the beginning, I don’t think the Pirates would want to put Kang at short. But even in the long run, he didn’t seem to really be a fit there. Good enough to fake it, but not really a true SS.

          Just need the bat in the lineup. I doubt he’ll play everyday at the start anyhow. So Freese has plenty of time to come down to earth.

          • Agree on the AB’s but not on the ability at ss. He is just as good if not better defensively than players like Ian Desmond or Juan Segura maybe Peralta and the bat of Freese is better than Mercer, not any argument can be made against that.

        • See im not insulting you, im pointing out that if you use the stats, at least use them right to help your point.

          And his defense is far from great. Thats subjective, but then again im not oddly in love with a guy after 10 games. Solid option, not a god.

          • Luke have you changed your position on Freese yet in case you haven’t noticed he’s got a top 5 position in mlb in swinging at strikes outside the zone with Jaso slightly behind him and his defense has continued to be raved about the announcers and obvious to anyone watching who’s ever played.

            • You keep raving about it, but i chalk that up to you raving about anything.

              His defense has been solid, but you’ve got a hard on for him. He aint no gold glover, and literally no one has called him more than solid over there. He can clang one like any non elite 3Bmen.

              A person can like his contributions but not need a change of shorts anytime he makes a good play.

              • Freese has been worth raving over, in fact reminds me of when another veteran third baseman had a renaissance, Scott Rolen.
                Why some people are stubborn about giving players credit baffles me. Seriously, give players who deserve heat the heat… Example) Locke. Freese though has been, along with Joyce another player I called out the kind of vets we’ve so long sorely missed on.
                Examples include Matt Diaz, Ike Davis, Brandon Inge, Gabby Sanchez, Casey McGee, Ryan Ludwick, Etc.
                So much negativity for what? Praise where praise is due doesn’t mean I calling the hall to fit Freese for a jacket. He’s just what this team needs though this year and what a start he’s having!
                Go Bucs!!!

                • And i repeat, one can be happy with his performance and give credit to him without going “GOLD GLOVE, he’s been amazeballs”.

                  Not being over the top =/= negativity. Im saying he’s been good, its been a big pickup, but we dont have to service him because he has been a good contributor. Reasonable people can agree that he hasnt been some gold glove superstar, but a solid role player.

    • Uh no, and no. King will be no more than a fill in at the shortstop position. Mercer is one of the best all around shortstops in the game. His defense alone will keep him in the lineup

      • Now that’s an overstatement you can’t be an overall great player who can’t hit your weight. I like Jordy as a shortstop but his Range is average, good arm and no bat.

  • Maybe sooner

  • BallHeadWonder
    April 14, 2016 4:02 pm

    Tim, when is the Super 2 date this year?? We have to mark that on the calendar!!

    • It’s fluid and can’t be computed until the year is over, but I think it’s usually around early June

      • Most teams just go around June 10th to be safe, but it usually ends up in May. The problem is that you can’t base it on what is going on now, because it ends up being set two full seasons after the year they get called up. That’s why you never know when it is, rather you just pick a safe date and hope for the best. You don’t want to guess wrong and end up being off by a day, so they usually add about 10-14 days from when they think it will be. I usually just pick the first home date after June 9th for my best guess

        • BallHeadWonder
          April 15, 2016 4:17 pm

          Perfect!!! Then Friday Nite at home against the Cardinals to open that 3 game set!!! I will set the date, because he will be there!!

  • He’s a bulldog…look at the intensity on his face right before he throws that curve for the K. Bulldog.

  • I think Kuhl is the player to watch out of the group. I love the sinker and his ability to get a ton of ground balls.

    • Gotta have a third pitch though.

      Wont survive over multiple years without at least an average 3rd pitch. Otherwise you become a back end bullpen arm.

      • The third pitch…like what AJ Burnett had? While generally I agree, just gotta wait and see.

        • Yeah, like the guy who had FB-CB-CH.

          AJ Burnett threw his change up 6-7 percent of the time. It dont gotta be great, but you have to be able to use it and force hitters to respect it enough to not just lay off.

          Not only that, but LOL that he’s near AJ’s pure stuff. His 2nd pitch isnt near the knuckle curve AJ had when he was dealing well.

          • His change was pathetic and 6-7% was a heavy year for his change. I can only assume that someone who bothers to truly develop one can do better.

            AJ didn’t need one, so I don’t really blame him. Kuhl could really use one, but I also don’t expect him to ever be better than AJ.

            • I guess another point that I had in my mind with that but didn’t explain:

              I don’t think it necessarily has to be a finished product when he gets to the majors. There’s going to be more development. However, the big focus for Kuhl is still going to be the fastball/slider combo. If those are strong enough, he can continue to work on the change and throw out a few a game.

            • No, 6-7 wasnt heavy.

              He was basically at 6 or above from his first year in PGH until the end. It wasnt good, but he threw it enough that hitters had to respect that he can use it and throw it for a strike.

              AJ did need one, and used it in his best years of production (both early and late). AJ wouldnt have been a much different pitcher if he was throwing 98% FB-CB (like 2009 and 2010 when he threw about 96% FB-CB).

    • “Kuhl the player to watch over the group” – Glasnow, Taillon, Kingham and even Brault. What???????

      • Well I did say “out” of the group instead of “over the group”…Kingham is injured and quite a distance away. Taillon and Glasnow are higher ceiling players but Kuhl is going to be a solid, solid starter

  • Taillon will quickly become a TOR starter.

    I recall watching a video of Taillon made last year. I recall thinking “he’s a different guy.” I wasn’t convinced that Taillon would reach his ceiling. I knew he would afterward.

  • Looks at those limbs on him man. He’s built like Jared Weaver but with more velocity. Now if he can pitch like prime Jared Weaver, I’d be happy with that.

  • I’m excited to see what he can do at the MLB level. Glad he’s back…been a tough couple of years on him.