When the New York Yankees traded for Jameson Taillon, it’d be fair to say a lot of fans were excited. Despite the injury concerns, this was a potential Cy Young arm set to be slated in the middle of the team’s starting rotation.
After his first 13 starts, though? Nothing but disappointment. The right-hander owned a 5.59 ERA, had pitched into the sixth inning just once, and just mainly looked flat. There hadn’t been an outing that got the fanbase encouraged, really.
Until Thursday, that is. Taillon tossed 6.1 frames of one-run ball on just five hits and two walks. He struck out five and got up to 96 pitches, which was his second-highest total of the season. His location was the best it’s been and his primary pitch mix (fastball, curveball and changeup) was working.
Not that anybody is expecting these kinds of performances every time he steps on the mound, but this is what many were looking forward to for around half of his outings. Even a third of his outings! Out of 14 starts, he’s had two quality ones. If that gets bumped up to five, we’re talking about an entirely different Yankees season.
So should fans be getting their hopes up after Taillon’s season-best showing against the Kansas City Royals?
The answer? Yes-ish, but temper your expectations. That’s the best we can come up with.
Yankees fans should be cautiously optimistic about Jameson Taillon.
Fans who aware of Taillon’s situation before the trade (he had just undergone his second Tommy John surgery and endured a battle with testicular cancer, leading to him hardly pitching since 2019), knew this would take time. However, many didn’t expect him to be this bad.
What else should have we expected, though? Taillon underwent a change in mechanics after going under the knife, which has more than likely played a role in his struggles. Bake in all the factors the man has dealt with since the start of 2019, and there wasn’t a plausible scenario in which he hit the ground running.
The right-hander also has some good underlying metrics. His fastball spin is in the 79th percentile; his curve spin is in the 83rd percentile; he gets batters to chase; and has a solid walk percentage. He just needs to avoid the middle of the zone and the barrels of bats.
This could be the beginning of the turnaround for the 29-year-old. Sure, it came against a very average offense, but he’s struggled against average offenses previously (Phillies, Indians, Orioles and Rangers). We’d understand if you’re still pessimistic, but maybe this was all part of the Yankees’ vision? Let him work out the kinks, battle through issues and find his footing to have him in tip-top shape down the stretch and in the postseason.
It didn’t go according to plan because the offense — which has bailed so many pitchers out of tough spots over the last few years — has been unable to prop him up. But maybe that unit’s coming around too? Let’s not get too excited, though. We’ll believe everything coming together when we see it.