Jameson Taillon isn’t giving anything away this season. The Yankees right-hander has battled back from cancer, two Tommy John surgeries and last season’s unusual (for baseball) ankle injury. Coming off October 2021 surgery to repair that ankle, the Yankees did not know what to expect from him coming back this season.
The 30-year-old is simply a more complete pitcher, who has added a cutter that is now a weapon in his repertoire, and who has dramatically cut down on giving away free bases. Taillon has a career-low 1.9 walk percentage this season, the lowest since his 2016 rookie season when he walked batters at a 4.9%. The 1.9% is the fourth best in the majors.
“The cutter is good. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff, so the cutter really works with the fastball and slider,” one American League scout said. “He uses it on the outside to righties to get them off the fastball. He can jam the lefties with it.
“It’s been a good pitch for him, it helps him attack and stay in the (strike) zone.”
That helps him create weak or soft contact and keep away from the walks.
Taillon flashed the cutter at the end of last season, mostly against left-handers, but this year it has been a growing presence in his pitch mix. In his last start, a win against the same Blue Jays he’s scheduled to face Wednesday at the Stadium, Taillon threw it a career-high 20 times in six innings, allowing one run on five hits and striking out four. He did not walk a batter.
Taillon is now throwing his cutter 12% of the time, which has cut some of his reliance on the fastball to 33% (9.5% less than 2021) and slider to 16.5% (2.9%) less.
“There’s a lot more weapons now,” Taillon said after beating the Blue Jays in Toronto on May 3. “Last year, I feel like to righties, it was fastball slider and a lot of fastballs up. To lefties I was like fastball, curveball, changeup. We’re now throwing curveball to righties, cutters to lefties and righties now, so I’ve definitely kind of expanded the package. I was just backing myself into a hole last year, kind of showing the pitch ability that I have.”
The results have been effective. He’s 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP and 21 strikeouts in 25.1 innings pitched over five starts. He has walked just two batters in that time.
Coming into this season, the Yankees really didn’t know what they had returning to their rotation. Gerrit Cole had struggled at the end of the year, though they thought and hoped that was due to a hamstring injury. Luis Severino was finally healthy after missing most of the last three years, but they had no idea how he would return. Nestor Cortes has started to show how he could be effective without overpowering stuff.
And Taillon had to have a ligament in his right ankle repaired, something that was unusual for a baseball player. Initially, the Yankees didn’t expect him back until this month, but even though he was on his own during most of the rehab because of the MLB lockout, Taillon was ready ahead of schedule.
Now, he’s part of a rotation and pitching corps that has been part of the bedrock of this team. Yankees starters have combined for the best ERA in the American League and the third-best in the big leagues (2.50) behind only the Dodgers and Diamondbacks. Their combined K/BB rate (4.11) is the best in the big leagues, in part because of Taillon’s ability to cut down on walks.
“I mean, our job is to keep the offense in the game and just give them a chance to win,” Taillon said. “So, I still would like to be going deeper, but, we’re keeping the team in the game and then with the bullpen that we have, if we can turn it over the bullpen with a lead or a close game, I like our chances. If it’s any other team especially when it comes down to the bullpen it’s been consistent efforts. Starting staff is extremely prepared. Our catchers are extremely prepared. And that allows us to keep our team in the game.”
Source: Berkshire mont