Yankees: The case for and against Jameson Taillon as the No. 3 starter

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - MAY 13: Jameson Taillon #50 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - MAY 13: Jameson Taillon #50 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /

Much has been made about the New York Yankees and their extremely volatile starting rotation behind the masterful Gerrit Cole, and that rotation has been as scattershot as many expected.

The two veteran reclamation projects Brian Cashman brought into the fold were former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber and former Pittsburgh Pirates starter Jameson Taillon.

While Kluber, a two-time Cy winner that pitched just one inning for the Texas Rangers last year, is starting to look like his old self, Taillon has been a much more difficult projection, as he is still working his way back from Tommy John surgery that cost him all of 2020.

Taillon was roughed up by the Tampa Bay Rays, as his ERA ballooned to 5.40 following a 4.2 inning performance in which he surrendered four runs, albeit while striking out nine Rays before Michael King relieved him.

Taillon is struggling if you look at his ERA and stats more commonly used to evaluate pitchers prompting some outcry to declare the signing a bust. However, advanced stats make him look much better.

Yankees: Jameson Taillon is a tough evaluation.

Per Fangraphs, Taillon entered tonight’s starts with an xERA of 2.97, FAR below the 5.02 ERA he entered with. An xFIP of 3.80 makes it look like Taillon is giving up a ton of soft contact that turns into bloop singles, and Yandy Diaz’s two-run single in the first inning makes it look like he has been snakebitten a bit.

Taillon is striking out more than a batter per inning for the first time in his career, and he is allowing the second-fewest walks per nine innings in his career. The velocity is starting to come back, and the breaking balls are still lethal when he has control. Perhaps a turnaround is coming soon.

However, he’s not completely mowing everyone down. In addition to the ERA, Taillon is giving up home runs at a rate that he hasn’t reached in his career. He has allowed fewer than three runs in a start just three times out of seven, and he only has one start this year in which he’s gone deeper than five innings.

Considering how overworked this bullpen is, the Yankees eventually have to nip this in the bud.

Advanced stats show that Taillon is still as unhittable as ever, and he’s just been the victim of some bad luck. However, traditional stats show that Taillon has a home run issue and is struggling to eat up innings. How the Yankees handle Taillon could be a good indication of which numbers they put more importance behind.