When the New York Yankees traded for Jameson Taillon back in January of 2021 in a deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates, those who pay close attention to baseball understood the move was for 2022 more than anything else.
Taillon was coming off his second Tommy John surgery and pitched just 37.1 innings in 2019 and 2020 combined. Before that, he came off of a tough battle with testicular cancer. It was a rough road for the right-hander since 2017.
To think Taillon’s contributions would’ve been to the best of his abilities in 2021 was foolish due to his lack of run the previous two seasons, and anybody complaining about his 4.30 ERA, 4.43 FIP and 1.21 WHIP across his first 29 starts in pinstripes (and July Pitcher of the Month honors!) is out of touch.
He needed time to build his arm strength back up, get acclimated to a new setting, prepare for tougher competition, and settle into a role on a much deeper pitching staff. Looks like the Yankees have that version of Taillon in 2022.
On Tuesday night, Taillon played a central role in the Toronto Blue Jays’ meltdown, which ended with a 9-1 Yankees’ victory. The former second overall pick pitched six innings of one-run ball, allowing five hits and zero walks while striking out four.
Thus far in 2022, Taillon is 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA, 3.31 FIP, 1.15 WHIP and 21 strikeouts in five starts (25.1 innings). That’s the production the Yankees traded (and have been waiting) for.
Jameson Taillon’s 2022 output is what the Yankees paid for
Maybe the Yankees knew all along that 2021 wasn’t the year? Taking into account the lineup imbalance, issues with the rotation, and overworking of the bullpen, it really all starts to make sense. And Taillon was a big part of that equation.
The most noticeable difference with him is that he’s barely issuing walks. Sure, it’s only five starts, but let’s look back at the first five starts in each of his MLB seasons:
- 2016 – 21 strikeouts to 6 walks, 4 HRs allowed
- 2017 – 24 strikeouts to 12 walks, 2 HRs allowed
- 2018 – 24 strikeouts to 7 walks, 4 HRs allowed
- 2019 – 17 strikeouts to 5 walks, 2 HRs allowed
- 2021 – 29 strikeouts to 5 walks, 5 HRs allowed
In 2022, he’s stuck out 21 batters while walking just two. His three home runs are pretty much in line with his penchant for surrendering the long ball (he allows 1.1 per nine innings), but his 0.7 walks per nine, as it stands, is the lowest of his career. His 10.50 strikeout-to-walk ratio, which likely won’t stand, is also a career best right now.
It also helps that he’s introduced a cutter this season to add to his fastball, slider, curveball and changeup. The cutter (12%) took away some of his fastball (9.5% less) and slider (2.9% less) usage, which has limited the damage in many ways, since hitters were feasting on those pitches last season when he was mis-locating.
The key for Taillon was re-establishing himself and finding consistency, which he’s done at the onset of 2022. His presence in helping lengthen the rotation was the plan general manager Brian Cashman envisioned, and fans might be seeing it come to fruition with each passing start during Taillon’s contract year.