Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Taillon Displays Unusual Maturity Hurdle Thinks Long Battle with Injuries Played Role in Pitcher's Development

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Taillon Displays Unusual Maturity Hurdle Thinks Long Battle with Injuries Played Role in Pitcher's Development

Article excerpt

Before his start Sunday, rookie right-hander Jameson Taillon sat down for a pregame strategy session with pitching coach Ray Searage and catcher Elias Diaz. For the first time in his brief big-league career, Taillon spoke first. This is what I've seen, he told them, and this is what I like.

Taillon had watched the Philadelphia Phillies closely over the previous two games in the series. He'd noticed batters champing at the bit to swing early against right-hander Gerrit Cole, whose fastball is a tick or two faster than Taillon's. And Taillon presumed they would try the same against him.

The result that day was nothing special. Taillon allowed seven hits and four runs, three earned, in six innings. His curveball led to seven strikeouts, but his fastball ran over the plate too many times. Taillon was economical, with 56 strikes to 28 balls. For the third start in a row, he issued no walks.

For comparison's sake, the bespectacled but eagle-eyed Greg Maddux did not have back-to-back no-walk starts until his 100th and 101st career appearances for the Chicago Cubs. Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw, who leads the majors with 145 strikeouts to just nine walks this season, did not have a single no-walk start until his 69th appearance.

In seven starts in the majors, Taillon has 31 strikeouts to five walks.

"I hate walking guys," Taillon said. "I think that can be a blessing and a curse. I love my stuff, I love going at guys but, at the same time, I think when guys find out I'm going to be around the zone, and they're 2-0, on the scouting report they're going to learn to expect a strike."

Taillon said there is such a thing as a "effective ball" when ahead in the count. It's an approach he needs to get more comfortable executing. Predictability, he said, eventually will be punished.

Manager Clint Hurdle said Taillon, a rarity among rookies, continues to do himself a big favor. Mistakes will be made, particularly early in a career - Taillon, for example, has given up more home runs (six) than walks (five) - and avoiding extra baserunners will minimize damage. …

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