The New York Yankees took a big gamble when they traded for pitcher Jameson Taillon from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Brian Cashman needed to rebuild a rotation that was losing three notable pitchers from 2020, and Taillon was an addition to a pitching staff filled with question marks after Gerrit Cole.
Taillon joined the Yankees as a new man, having remade his delivery following his second Tommy John surgery. Still, a new delivery will not translate to results overnight, and Taillon’s struggles in the first half were well documented.
On Monday, MLB named Taillon the AL Pitcher of the Month for July. The achievement signifies the culmination of his journey back to the mound after almost two years away recovering from injury.
“I told myself I worked too hard to not be good,” said Taillon via Zoom before Tuesday’s game. “…I worked too hard to just be mediocre.”
Taillon understands he did not earn this honor alone, citing Gary Sanchez calling good games and the defense among other factors that helped his numbers warrant the award. Still, he realizes that it is a special achievement as there are other pitchers with good, long careers that are never named a Pitcher of the Month.
A Jamo July to remember.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) August 2, 2021
The Turning Point
In the midst of his struggles was a June 12th start against the Philadelphia Phillies in which he only recorded one out but allowed four earned runs.
“That Phillies start where I didn’t get out of the first inning, opened my eyes to where like ‘Hey we’re in June at this point, it’s time for me to put my foot down and get some results,’ said Taillon. “You can’t be strictly about the process all year. The process has to match up with the results at some point.”
Taillon took the initiative and went to pitching coach Matt Blake, some of the catchers, and the analytics department. After that, he threw a bullpen which he credits as the start of his turn around.
Now he throws more two-seam fastballs and is more aggressive with his curveball. Additionally, he is now executing differently with his four-seam fastball, throwing it down and away to right-handed batters.
The change in strategy and execution has worked out well for Taillon and fueled his transformation into the pitcher that the Yankees hoped he would become.
By The Numbers
Jameson Taillon went 4-0 with a 1.16 ERA and 0.968 WHIP over 31 July innings pitched. His performance was a stark turn around from his dismal June where he posted a 6.14 ERA and 1.591 WHIP in 22 innings. Taillon was more efficient and therefore able to pitch deeper into games – averaging six-plus innings pitched per start compared to four-plus innings in July.
Oddly enough, his control was a little worse in July than June with a worse K/BB ratio, and there was an element of luck involved in Taillon’s success. His batting average on balls in play went from .362 in June to .214 in July. That was a big factor in his opponents hitting .182 off him overall in July.
Luck wasn’t the only reason for Taillon’s success. For the entirety of 2021, he sits in the middle of the pack in terms of average exit velocity. Still, he induced weaker contact in July that helped opponents slug far worse against him than in July, .300, than in any previous month, no lower than .435.
A lot is going well for Jameson Taillon of late. The combination of improved strategy with a little luck on his side as turned him into the pitcher the Yankees need him to be. With Cole and Jordan Montgomery dealing with Covid-19, and Domingo German on the injured list, the Yankees will need Taillon to keep his hot stretch going throughout the second half as they look to stay afloat in the AL playoff race.
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