New York Yankees Player Profiles: Jameson Taillon is he an ace in the making?

Jameson Taillon, New York Yankees
May 1, 2019; Arlington, TX, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jameson Taillon (50) delivers during the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the New York Yankees have re-signed DJ LeMahieu, they have concentrated on improving the pitching, both starting, and the bullpen. The two significant changes in the starting rotation are indeed significant. First, they signed Corey Kluber, a two-time Cy Young Award winner. Shortly after that, they traded with the Pittsburgh Pirates to bring starter Jameson Taillon, pronounced Tie-own, to the Bronx.

Taillon could be a big boost to the New York Yankees rotation and probably will start in the number 3 spot behind Gerrit Cole and Corey Kluber. Taillon brings another look to the rotation with an entirely different pitching style. If successful, it could give the Yankees a one, two, three punch at the top of the rotation that opponents will fear. In 2019, he relied primarily on his Slider (89mph), Fourseam Fastball (95mph), and Sinker (95mph), also mixing in a Curve (83mph) and Change (89mph). … His curve is much harder than usual and has a sharp downward bite—Taillon’s pitching results in many ground balls that fit Yankee Stadium nicely.

Frustrated by a second Tommy John surgery, the Yankees’ newest starter worked with a “village” of experts to revamp his delivery. He is ready to display it on day one with the New York Yankees. Let’s look at the journey that has led him to the Yankees.

Jameson Lee Taillon is 29 years old, born on November 18, 1991. He is a Canadian/American citizen, but he was born in Lakeland, Florida. His family moved to Texas, where the tall young man attended Woodlands High School in Woodland. He played baseball for the Highlanders. It was there that he got the attention of Pittsburgh Pirates scouts with his 22-6 record. In his senior year at Woodland, he threw a no-hitter, striking out 19 hitters. His 2010 senior record was 8-1.

Out of high school, Taillon signed a letter of intent to attend college but was drafted in the Pirates’ in the first round. Just hours before the deadline, he did choose the Pirates over Rice University for a $6.5 million signing bonus, the second-highest bonus in draft history at the time. Taillon made his professional debut on April 27, 2011. He joined the team on April 24 after staying in Florida for an extended spring training assignment. He spent the season with the West Virginia Power, going 2–3 with a 3.98 ERA in 23 starts.

Taillon was named to appear in the 2012All-Star Futures Game. He started the 2012 season with the Marauders but was quickly promoted to the Altoona Curve. In August, he was named the Eastern League pitcher of the week. In 26 starts between the two teams, he was 9-8 with a 3.55 ERA. He was promoted to the Indianapolis Indians, but after the season, he had his first Tommy John surgery to repair a UCL of the elbow, causing him to miss the entire 2014 season. He also missed the 2015 season with a sports hernia.

During 2016 Taillon spent his time between the Pirates and the minors going back and forth. He made his Major League Debut after 10 starts in the minors. Taillon went 4–2 with a 2.04 ERA, striking out 61 in 61.2 innings and walking only 6. In another Pirate’s start, he faced Noah Syndergaard; Taillon threw 6 innings, giving up 3 runs on 6 hits, 2 walks, and 3 strikeouts, not receiving a decision in the eventual 6–5 loss. In his second start against the Mets, he threw 8 scoreless innings, carrying a no-hitter into the seventh before former Yankees Curtis Granderson broke it up, recording his first win in the 4–0 victory. He spent the remainder of 2016 with Pittsburgh. In 18 starts, he compiled a 5–4 record and 3.38 ERA.

In 2017 he was in the Pirate’s starting rotation, but he underwent surgery for testicular cancer in May. After just a few weeks, he was back with the club and finished the season with 25 starts; he had an 8–7 record and 4.44 ERA. He pitched the entire 2018 season uninjured with a 3.20 ERA in 32 starts. His 2019 season was cut short when he required his second Tommy John surgery. He did not pitch in 2020 while rehabbing.

General manager Brian Cashman has a history of taking chances on previously injured players, as he has already done with Corey Kluber. In a worst-case scenario, both of these pitchers will be average pitchers, but there is also an excellent chance that they excel for the Yankees and prove their worth with minor investment.  This will give the Yankees a whole season to evaluate Domingo German and Luis Severino’s returning pitchers and further develop prospects Deivi Garcia, Clarke Schmidt, and Michael King.

At just 29 years old, Taillon is a 6-foot-5, 230-pound pitcher. He primarily utilizes a fastball that can top out at 98 mph, sinker, slider, and a circle curveball. He gets an impressive 50% ground ball rate, which plays well at Yankee Stadium. Taillon is not the pitcher in 2019; he has developed a new delivery to take the strain off his arm by using his hip more efficiently in his delivery.

“I kind of had like a coming-to-grips moment where I said, ‘My current set of mechanics and what I’m doing isn’t working,’” he said in a conference call with reporters. “That’s just the cold, hard truth. I need to change something or else my career is going to be over.”

Taillon has accomplished that working with the training staff, coaches, and a visit to the Florida Baseball Ranch, a facility in Lakeland, Fla., that uses diagnostics to improve health and performance. Over time, the pitcher refashioned his windup and delivery. Taillon declared that he was healthy and would be ready for spring training, whenever it starts. He has been throwing off a mound with the goal of preparation, not rehabilitation.

Taillon said that he now had more spin on his fastball and that his cut fastball had evolved into more of a true slider. He still relies on a sloping curveball, having discovered a comfortable grip on his evolving changeup, which gives him the potential for at least five pitches. Taillon has the ability to become a true ace. The New York Yankees have control of him through the 2022 season.

Jameson is currently dating his longtime girlfriend Claire Petratis; he spends a lot of time with her. They like to travel and go on vacations together. There are no rumors of an upcoming engagement. It is reported that he lives in the Pittsburg area but will be moving to New York. On his Twitter account, he has been asked for the places to get the best coffee in New York City. He has said he wants to visit all the New York sights. He is reportedly a great guy with a big heart. He is associated with charitable organizations, including “Lending Hearts,” a nonprofit org facilitating peer support, through educational & recreational activities & programs, to kids & teens with cancer and in remission from cancer. Baseball America has compared him to Stephen Strasburg and Burt Blyleven.

Taillon coming to the New York Yankees is a reunion of sorts, and he is now professionally reengaged with this long-time close friend Gerrit Cole. They pitched in the minors together and for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2016 and 2017, where they became best friends. You can be sure Cole had something to do with Taillon coming to the Yankees. Cole said on Twitter:

“I told the Yankees that if you’re going to bet on someone, if you’re going to go into battle with someone, that Jameson is the guy you want next to you. He is not fazed. He makes the people around him better. He is one of the most resilient people I have evern known.”

Mentioned in this article:

More about: