BRADENTON, Fla. – Jameson Taillon made one of his final starts of Spring Training today at Pirate City, throwing 94 pitches over six innings of work. This is the biggest start for Taillon of the spring, as he will scale back the next time out to get ready for the second game of the regular season against the Red Sox. For the most part, Taillon looked good today, giving up only two runs, and showing consistent 93-97 MPH velocity.

Taillon was strong the first four innings, getting a lot of ground ball outs. He ran into some trouble in the final two innings, with a few hard hit fly balls, including a two RBI double by Clint Frazier on a curveball that Taillon couldn’t bury in the zone.

“The first four innings I was down, every single pitch,” Taillon said. “My misses were down. I was aggressive with my off-speed. That was probably the best I’ve felt in a really long time the first four. The last two I felt strong, the arm strength was still there. That last pitch I threw and struck him out on felt really, really strong. But that’s when the legs start leaving you.”

The double to Frazier wasn’t a bad curveball, and wasn’t hanging in the zone. However, Taillon said that the ball caught just enough of Frazier’s bat path to do damage. That’s a takeaway from today’s outing.

“Going forward, something to be aware of is when the pitch count is up there, you’ve got to make sure you’re staying on top of the ball and driving it down,” Taillon said.

Taillon has been working on a new changeup this year, switching to a two-seam grip instead of the four-seam grip he had in the past. The only difference is how he holds the ball on the seams, as the grip is identical otherwise. His four seam has good control, with the ability to hit certain spots, but it’s pretty straight. The two-seam adds a bit more movement, although it doesn’t have a ton of movement like he saw with his switch from the four seam fastball to the two-seamer last year.

“I’ve been throwing that a lot,” Taillon said of the two-seam changeup. “Getting some good swings and misses. Getting a lot of ground balls with it. Occasionally getting under it and pushing it arm-side. When it’s right, it’s been really, really good, so I think I’m going to roll with it.”

Today, Taillon was just throwing changeups in normal situations, and wasn’t trying to force anything out of the ordinary. He was trying out the new changeup earlier in camp, and didn’t commit to making the change. He told me today that he expects to be predominately a two-seam changeup guy going forward, although he still has the four-seamer if he needs it.

“I’m lucky I have a feel for both. I can go back and forth,” Taillon said. “If I’m throwing 80% four seams one day, my two seam doesn’t feel good, I can throw 80% four seam changeups that day.”

Taillon will have one more start as more of a touch and feel outing, going 2-4 innings before he’s ready for the season. It sounds like he’s ready now, as he finished today in a much better position than where he was at this time last year.

“I feel really good. I feel healthier than I did last year,” Taillon said. “I feel fresher, stronger, more athletic. I’m ready to go.”

Indianapolis Game Notes

By John Dreker

Jameson Taillon was getting a lot of soft contact early in the game, so the defense had a fairly easy game, though the infielders were busy. Chris Bostick started at third base, with Alfredo Reyes at shortstop, Erich Weiss at second base and Joey Terdoslavich at first base. Reyes is very strong defensively, but he could be headed to one of the A-ball teams because the bat has a lot of work to do. The group handled all of their chances cleanly.

The Pirates took an early 2-0 lead with a very long homer from Eric Wood, who was playing left field. His drive easily cleared the left field wall, with the Yankees outfielder barely moving from his spot. Bostick added a three-run homer a few innings later and Terdoslavich also added a home run.

The rest of the lineup was Max Moroff at DH, Eury Perez in center field and Justin Maffei in right field. Elias Diaz caught until Taillon was done. He had one tough defensive play out in front of the plate, where the ball went about 15 feet in front of the plate. Diaz fielded it, spun to make the throw and hit the runner going to first square in the middle of the back. The runner was called out for running inside the base line. Zane Chavez finished up the game behind the plate. Julio de la Cruz and Mikell Granberry also got into the game late.

Jameson Taillon batted twice, basically getting thrown into the batting order when they wanted him to hit. The first time they brought him in to bunt a runner over, which worked out. He came up a few innings later and struck out swinging.

Dovydas Neverauskas followed Taillon and had a quick inning, though he did allow one hit. John Kuchno followed him and got hit around a bit. They don’t really keep score, but if the did, the Yankees would have made it close late.

Altoona Game Notes

By Wilbur Miller

Tyler Eppler started the Double-A game against the Yankees and breezed through five innings, allowing three hits with no walks or strikeouts. He got a lot of weak contact, both grounders and popups. The one jam he had came with a leadoff triple. Eppler got out of it by inducing the next two hitters to pop up.

The Curve will have a bit of a log jam at the corners, with Connor Joe, Wyatt Mathisen, Jordan Luplow and Edwin Espinal all having spent time there in the past few years. Today Mathisen played the whole game at third, with Luplow in left, where he appears likely to stay. Joe started at first, with Espinal at DH, but they switched roles part way through the game. Joe looked good defensively, making a diving stop on a grounder and grabbing a wide throw with a nice stretch. He didn’t do much at the plate, beyond showing good patience.

Mathisen doubled into the left field corner and hit a drive to the fence in right-center that was caught. Kevin Kramer, who played second, also doubled. Pablo Reyes played short and showed good range going well back on a couple of popups, one of which helped get Eppler out of trouble.

Sam Street followed Eppler for two innings, throwing 86-88 MPH with his low sidearm motion. He gave up a couple of long drives, one of which was caught.

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  1. If Cole and Taillon don’t combine for at least 30-35 wins this year, I will be surprised and disappointed. Nova and Kuhl should combine for another 24-28 wins. Glasnow is the X factor – if he can grow into the rotation right from the start, I could see him winning 10-12 games at a minimum…..this rotation will make or break the bullpen – and the pitching staff will make or break this overall season…..

    • In today’s baseball of 5-man rotations, it would be hard for your top two starters to both win more than 15 games each. You are basically saying that you would be surprised and disappointed if the Pirates don’t do something that they have only done twice (1990 and 1991) in over 30 years.

  2. I think Altoona is going to have a down year, compared to the last 2-3 years – the talent level will not be what it has been in recent seasons. I don’t think they will have any top flight prospects (like a Meadows, Newman, Ramirez, McGuire, Holmes, etc.) – I guess Garcia (pitcher) and Kramer will likely be the best prospects in Altoona, at least at the start of the season.

    I don’t consider Tucker a top flight prospect – light bat and although his defense is solid, it is not at a level to overcome the weak bat. I hope he proves me wrong in 2017, because the Pirates need positon player prospects. I still have hopes for guys like Luplow and Suchy – to be more than just organizational players and actually become legitimate major league prospects. Joe is a great kid, but he was a poor first round selection by the Pirates and that was obvious the moment he was drafted.

  3. Anybody else have high hopes for JT this season? I know wins are a poor way to gauge a SP, but I’ve got the number 20 stuck in my head.

    • 20’s a big number. Only 3 guys won 20 last year.

      I don’t see JT winning 20. 12 – 16 would be my guess.

      • Granted he’ll need the bullpen to pitch great behind him. Then again, every SP does nowadays, due to the fact we live in a fear of injury driven world.

        Note to management, Pitchers elbows don’t blow up on the 101st pitch.

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