Jameson Taillon made an impressive major league debut for anyone in 2016, let alone a pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery. The 25-year-old right-hander hadn't pitched at any level since 2013 thanks to a plethora of injuries and ailments. He stayed healthy in 2016 and showed why Pittsburgh drafted him with the second pick in the 2010 draft, ahead of Manny Machado. Taillon began the campaign with Triple-A Indianapolis, crafting a 2.04 ERA and a stunning 61:6 K:BB in 61.2 innings covering 10 starts, and never looked back after debuting with the Pirates in early June. He perfected a two-seam fastball in spring training and used that 94.2 mph weapon 39.7 percent of the time - as it was particularly effective against left-handed batters. Perhaps most impressively, he posted a 85:17 K:BB as a rookie and registered a 3.38 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 104 innings. Armed with a 12-to-6 curveball and pinpoint accuracy, Taillon just needs to stay healthy to stake his claim as Pittsburgh's ace in 2017.
Taillon allowed two runs on four hits and two walks in 4.1 innings Monday, striking out four. The team hoped to have him go five innings but he reached his pitch limit ahead of schedule. Taillon, who has compiled a 3.65 ERA in 12.1 spring innings on nine hits and four walks while striking out 10, enters 2017 behind Gerrit Cole but has the potential to serve as the team's ace. He'll look to build off of an impressive rookie campaign in which he registered a 3.38 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 85:17 K:BB in 104 innings. Control is the key for Taillon. He struck out 417 batters in the minors while issuing only 118 walks in 443.2 innings.
Taillon, who will start the second game of the season in Boston, allowed two runs on three hits and two walks in two innings Sunday. He struck out three batters. Although he needed 42 pitches (22 strikes) and served up a long homer to Adam Jones, Taillon was pleased with his new two-seam change-up grip. "It's feeling comfortable," Taillon said. "I got a couple swings and misses. I'm normally not a big swing-and-miss guy on the changeup, so that's a good sign."
Taillon limited the Cubs to one run on one hit and three walks in six innings Wednesday. He struck out four. The rookie ended his campaign on a high note, allowing only a first-row homer to Anthony Rizzo. The right-hander emerged as the team's ace, compiling a 3.38 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 104 innings. Including minor league action, he totaled 165.2 innings after missing the two previous seasons. The workload didn't slow Taillon down and he's put himself in position for an even greater role in 2017.
Taillon didn't factor into the decision versus the Nationals on Friday but recorded seven strikeouts and gave up three earned runs on six hits over five innings. The rookie exhibited sharp control in notching first-pitch strikes on 16 of the 22 batters he faced and not issuing a free pass for the second time in the last four starts. Taillon's pitch count has been closely monitored as the season has wound down, as he hasn't pitched past the fifth inning in any of his last three trips to the mound. He's enjoyed a solid rookie campaign overall, with a 4-4 record and 3.49 ERA that he'll try to improve on when he takes on the Cubs next Wednesday in his final start of 2016.
Taillon (4-4) gave up three earned runs on nine hits and a walk over five innings in Saturday's 10-4 victory over the Reds in the opening game of a doubleheader, while also recording two strikeouts. He helped his own cause with an RBI single in three at-bats as well. The rookie gave up his first homer in the last three starts, a 406-foot three-run homer to Adam Duvall in the third. It was Taillon's first victory since Aug. 11 versus the Padres, and his second straight five-inning stint. Taillon was pulled after only 79 pitches and will go for his fifth victory when he takes on the Nationals next Friday.