25-year-old right hander Jameson Taillon has endured more than his fair share of trials and tribulations this season, both on and off the field. Should the Pittsburgh Pirates shut down Taillon for the remainder of the year to conserve his arm?
Tonight, Jameson Taillon will start for the Pittsburgh Pirates in their last game against the Chicago Cubs this season. The game will not have much impact on the standings but the winner will take the season series. Not too bad considering the Pirates went 4-14 against the Cubs last year.
On the year, Taillon has totaled 112 innings in the majors plus 14 innings of minor league rehab work. That’s 126 total innings this year. Last year, Taillon compiled 165.2 innings pitched between the majors and AAA. Let’s not forget that last year was the first time Taillon pitched since 2013.
It has been a crazy year for Taillon. First off, he beat cancer and barely missed a month while doing so. When on the mound, he’s had stretches of phenomenal pitching. He’s also had stretches filled with struggle. On the season, Taillon is 7-5 with a 4.50 ERA. He has struck out 107 batters and walked 42. His FIP of 3.50 suggests some overall bad luck. All things considered, I’d say Taillon has done a great job in 2017. Should tonight’s start be his last of the season?
The argument for yes
The Pittsburgh Pirates would be playing it safe. Why risk an injury for someone who is such a large part of the future. Taillon has ace-like stuff. His mid-to-high 90s fastball has movement. His curveball is absolutely filthy at times. Taillon has a real chance to be the Pirates ace of the future.
That being said, Taillon has also encountered random, freak injuries throughout his career. He has gone through Tommy John surgery and rehab. He had a hernia, which required surgery. We talked about the cancer this season. While there is no reason to think some injury like this will happen again, why take any sort of chance at any injury?
Then there is the mental side. I have full confidence that Taillon is bulldog. He’s mentally tough to say the least. Taillon has said time and time again that he doesn’t want to talk about the cancer. He wants to focus on pitching. At the same time, he is only human. With the team out of contention, now may be the best time to give Taillon rest both mentally and physically.
The strongest argument for shutting Taillon down would be to give other young pitchers a look. We know Taillon will be in the rotation next year. He has nothing to prove. Why not give his innings to unproven guys like Tyler Glasnow, Steven Brault, and Nick Kingham? Those guy need a long, hard look to see if they can help the team in 2018.
The argument for no
Although Taillon is sure bet for the rotation next year, he is still young. Taillon is still developing and searching for new ways to become a better major league pitcher. He could use the extra reps. If he were to shut it down after tonights start, Taillon would most likely have just over 130 innings pitched on the year. That’s about 30 innings less than last year.
Recently, Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitching has had success. Perhaps they are pitching better because the stakes aren’t as high as they were about a month ago when the team was still in the race. In his last start, Taillon pitched six scoreless innings against the Cincinnati Reds. It was his first six inning start in nearly a month. Perhaps Taillon could flourish in a lower pressure situation as well. A solid final few starts could propel Taillon into a productive start to 2018. Once again, extra reps will only further his development. Why live in fear and halt that?
I would not shut down Taillon for the rest of 2017 after tonight’s start.
The only reason it would be logical to do so would be if there were any lingering injuries or a super heavy workload. That is not the case. Taillon is healthy. He has not been particularly overworked this season. He wants to be out there.
To find a way to get a look at the unproven pitchers, I would skip a Cole start. I would skip another Nova start. Taillon could use a skipped start as well. The Pirates have only used seven starting pitchers this year. That is somewhat crazy and impressive. To get a look at the other pitchers, the Pirates should lessen the workload of their established guys of this season, not necessarily shut them down.
Photo credit – Daniel Decker Photography