New York Yankees: Jameson Taillon remains a mystery

Nathan Solomon
New York Yankees, Aaron Boone, jameson taillon
Apr 7, 2021; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone, left, takes the ball from starting pitcher Jameson Taillon (50) during the top of the fifth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Over the last few weeks, the New York Yankees‘ rotation has really kicked things into high gear. Corey Kluber, Doming German, and Jordan Montgomery have given the squad some solid starts to back Gerrit Cole through the first six weeks of the season. However, just one pitcher has yet to have everything click, and that’s Jameson Taillon.

Taillon’s first seven starts have been a little….odd. Although he isn’t getting the desired results, his metrics aren’t terrible. Taillon sits in the top 75th percentiles of chase rate, fastball and curveball spin rate, strike percentage, and expected ERA. His WHIP is also just 1.20 despite a 5.40 ERA over 33.1 innings. However, the worrisome stats are all exit velocity related: Average exit velocity, hard-hit rate, and barrel rate. All three of these stats are in the bottom half of the league, with barrel rate being in the bottom 20 percent.

So, advanced metrics are showing that he has the stuff; he just can’t locate his pitches. His strikeout rate and spin rates are significantly better than any other year in his career, leading us to believe that he has the best stuff he’s ever had. Although his average velocity is down about one mile per hour since before his 2019 Tommy John surgery, his increased spin rates negate the speed loss.

The mystery of the entire equation is why exactly he can’t locate pitches. We saw something similar with Corey Kluber in his first three starts of the season, but he’s now finally started to hit his locations and have success because of it. Kluber has allowed just five runs in his last 25 innings, a 1.80 ERA in that span.

Once Taillon can get his control honed in, he could potentially become one of the most dominant pitchers in the game. His spin metrics compete with some of MLB’s aces, but he just can’t avoid hard contact right now. Coming back from Tommy John’s surgery is certainly a long process, but it’s definitely a bit surprising to see Taillon struggle this much.

Hopefully, Taillon can find his command soon and boost the Yankee rotation even more with the heart of the season nearing.