The New York Yankees’ starting pitching rotation has been facing a bit of adversity lately. With fatigue setting in at the midway point in the season, general manager Brian Cashman is seeking reinforcements.
Whether Cashman executes a blockbuster trade for Cincinnati Reds star pitcher Luis Castillo or simply adds Domingo German back from injury, the Yankees could use a bit of support in the rotation.
However, one of their more unreliable starters over the past few weeks has been Jamison Taillon, who started the season with fantastic efficiency. In fact, during five starts in May, Taillon posted a 2.01 ERA, allowing just seven earned runs over 31.1 innings.
Fast-forward to June and Taillon allowed a 4.59 ERA, giving up 17 earned runs over 33.1 innings. Fatigue is undoubtedly taking hold, which has turned Jameson into somewhat of a liability.
Over two starts in July, Taillon features a 9.58 ERA, allowing 11 earned runs and five homers over 10.1 innings. The former Pittsburgh Pirate isn’t known for his strikeout capabilities but rather great location and ability to generate round balls.
This season, he features a 40.3% ground ball rate and 75.4% left on base rate over 94.1 innings. His 7.35 strikeouts per nine are down from 8.73 last season, but he’s not walking nearly the amount of batters.
Taillon’s numbers still look adequate given his strong start to the season, but his last few outings have plummeted his numbers.
In fact, in Taillon’s last four games, he’s given up 20 runs over 21 innings. In that time span, he’s allowed seven homers.
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The Yankees need to get Taillon right…somehow:
So what exactly is going on with Taillon and his pitches lately?
Interestingly, Taillon has seen a steep drop off in 4-seam fastball usage, landing at 50% last year and just 33.3% this season. He’s increased the usage of his slider, change-up, and sinker to make up the difference. Opposing batters are hitting .304 against his fastball, which is why he’s decreasing his pitch allocation.
One pitch that has seen a massive drop-off in efficiency is his slider. In May, he generated a 24.5% WHIFF rate using that specific pitch, which dropped to 13% in June. The biggest issue has been his ground ball percentage and its steep drop-off over the past few months. He was producing a 45% GB rate in the first two months of the season, but that dropped to 35.2% in June. Opposing teams are also making better contact, resulting in a higher hard-hit rate.
Batters are starting to see Taillon’s pitches more efficiently, which is resulting in harder contact. The unfortunate degradation of his fastball has made a big difference, utilizing more offspeed pitches.
There’s a strong possibility that fatigue could be hurting his efficiency. He pitches 144 innings last season, coming off Tommy John surgery, and is already at 94.1 innings this season at the halfway mark. This seems to be a familiar reality among Yankee starters, with Nestor Cortes facing a similar situation.
The All-Star break should provide plenty of much-needed rest, especially with the bullpen dealing with injury concerns as well.