Yankees' Jameson Taillon Deep Dive: Advanced stats show why starter has struggled to keep runs off the board

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Jameson Taillon fires pitch vs. Rangers
Jameson Taillon fires pitch vs. Rangers

Jameson Taillon was a low-risk, high-reward trade for the Yankees this offseason, adding a former first-rounder that had the potential to provide solid rotation depth.

That hasn’t been the case, though, as Taillon’s inconsistency on the mound over his first eight starts with the Bombers has resulted in a 5.73 ERA. Against the Rangers on Tuesday night, he allowed four earned runs for the second consecutive start, lasting only 4.1 innings before the bullpen had to take over and control the damage that the offense made up for.

So what has been going wrong with Taillon thus far? And, more importantly, how much longer before the Yankees are forced to consider a change?

Looking at Taillon’s advanced statistics, we can gauge what might have be causing hitters to lock on to the righty much like they did in the third inning in his last outing. Let’s take a look:

Missing with two strikes

Taillon has 46 strikeouts on the season, which isn’t a bad number at all when you consider 10 total walks over eight starts. But there could be many more strikeouts if Taillon had that “out” pitch locked down. Right now, it doesn’t seem that he does.

He’s been going with the high fastball to get hitters chasing up in the zone this season, and it has worked for sure. But, thanks to Baseball Savant, we can view his spray charts for that pitch with two strikes and notice that there are a lot of fastballs that stay in the strike zone. Click on a couple, and you’ll notice that they go for hits and even homers.

“It’s similar, in my bad outings, [to] what’s been going wrong,” Taillon told reporters after Tuesday’s start. “A streak of a couple hitters, two outs, a couple two-strike hits. Think [Nick] Solak was a two-strike hit, [Adolis] Garcia had a two-strike hit. So, yeah, it’s kinda the same old, same old in my bad outings so far.”

Then, when you take a look at his secondary breaking stuff – a hard slider and 12-6 curve – many are in the strike zone as well. Taillon mentioned that he has been working on his breaking pitches recently, but Tuesday night, he said he had to chalk his curveball early. And since he rarely uses a changeup, that basically makes him a two-pitch hurler on the bump.

“Yeah, I thought the slider took some steps forward compared to the last start,” he said. “I thought the curveball — they had a couple hits on it early and then I thought we kinda just forgot about it and didn’t throw it as much as we normally would. So that’s something that’s hard to even know how the curveball was because I banked it early.”

Now, not all of these pitches have been bad with two strikes. But when you see that hitters are averaging .220 with two strikes off Taillon this season, it’s evident he’s missing his spots compared to other pitchers around the league.

Is he tipping his curveball?

Taillon offers a 12-6 curveball (pitch moves from 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock straight down) that can be very hard for hitters to line up since it’s got sharp, downward action. But when you focus on the release point with which Taillon is throwing it so far this season, a trained eye may seem to see it out of his hand.

Again, Baseball Savant allows us to see that his curveball release point this season has been higher than the rest of his pitches. Normally, that’s to make sure Taillon stays on top of the baseball to get the proper rotation. But it also results in a batter recognizing the pitch before it’s released based off the arm angle.

When reviewing some changes to make, Taillon may want to look at that film to see if a) there is a tip going on where his arm is higher than his other pitches like the stats say or b) analyze whether or not the ball is popping or jumping out of his hand early, something that occurs with breaking balls like this often if the hand isn’t on top of the ball.

Fixing that could be the start to better pitches overall when that Uncle Charlie is called by the catcher.

No changeup mix

If the breaking stuff isn’t working just yet for Taillon, why not mix up speeds with a slower pitch like the changeup.

He’s only thrown that pitch 30 times this season, and 28 of them have been to lefties. If Taillon would look to a friend and teammate, Gerrit Cole, he’ll see a pitcher that constantly keeps hitters on their toes with the changeup in any count to make sure they’re not sitting dead red on the fastball if the breaking stuff isn’t working.