2. Jameson Taillon
Jameson Taillon, or your July Pitcher of the Month in the American League! Who saw that coming?
Oh, come on. You thought he might have No. 2 starter upside in March, but you did not see that coming in May.
Even when Taillon was struggling earlier this season — to, like, an AJ Burnett-ish degree — you could see signs that he could eventually be valuable. We weren’t sure if he could do it as a starter, though, and figured his snap-dragon curveball and high fastball combination might turn him into the next Luis Cessa by 2022.
Now that we’ve watched him turn the corner, though, it’s clear there’s a pathway to being Gerrit Cole’s best friend and running mate in 2022 and beyond. Taillon’s profile still includes a good bit of luck, and he won’t be this good moving forward, but there’s now a solid chance he reaches a middle ground as a reliable No. 2 or No. 3 who can soak innings as he says goodbye to the arm injuries of his recent past.
Taillon hits free agency following next season, but we’re tired of the uncertainty and turnover surrounding this rotation. This offseason, only Cole and Jordan Montgomery seemed to be locks to appear in the 2022 crew, pending injuries. JA Happ and Masahiro Tanaka were already gone. Deivi Garcia had been squeezed out, and has now regressed. Relying on prospects and the free agent pool to entirely fill out a rotation seems to be a fool’s errand in this modern era, where star pitchers reach the open market less frequently than ever before.
If Taillon can finish strong, it might be worth seeing if you can gain extra control at a bargain this offseason, adding two years to his contract prior to 2022.