Jameson Taillon (PIT – SP) – NFBC ADP 65
I love me some Irish Whiskey and this Jameson might be the highball I’m looking for. Can he really be an ace though? Well, based on the 2 Early Mocks run back in October, he went as the 23rd SP off the board. That’s firmly in the SP2 territory. Since then, NFBC has his ADP all the way up to 65 which means he’s somewhere between 15-20! Anyone not paying attention to the second half of 2018 might be a bit surprised about Jameson Taillon’s rank. It was more than a great second half for Taillon, here are his numbers since 6/1/18: 12 wins, 2.63 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 125 K in 133 IP. Oh, and he went at least 6 innings in 16 of those 21 starts. Taillon did introduce a slider into his pitch mix late in May which helped boost his numbers. While I expected additional strikeouts with the slider, his K rate remained unchanged. Let’s look under the hood with Taillon.
The slider yielded very good results with a 6.4 pitch value which is solid for only four months of use (pitch value is a cumulative stat and is results based). Personally, I believe the slider is much better than the pitch value indicates. The 49.8% chase rate means the slider has very good deception. However, the 13.7% swinging strike rate against the pitch is not what I’d expect given the extremely high chase rate. An elite strikeout pitch such as a slider should yield a swinging strike rate of near 20%. The slider can be a putaway pitch if he throws it for strikes less often. Here’s why; Taillon was inducing hitters to swing outside the zone half the time with a 54.9% contact rate on those pitches offered at outside the zone. Conversely, the slider had a 94.6% contact rate on in-zone pitches. That’s not good and Taillon threw nearly half of his sliders for strikes. Hitters are chasing the pitch, so let em chase, just ask Patrick Corbin.
Taillon already had a very good breaking pitch, the curveball, which is probably as good or better than the slider. In addition, and most importantly, Taillon’s fastball got better. It averages over 95 mph and produced a 10.8% swinging strike rate where league-average for the pitch is only 9%. It’s all about location. That’s how he managed a 24.7% K rate on the pitch compared to a 14.2% in 2017. Take a look at how Taillon attacked hitters with his fastball while ahead in the count.
Now that’s a thing of beauty! Almost all of the pitches are located up in the zone, that’s how he improved his strikeout rate with the fastball. The sinker, on the other hand, does not get swings and misses but got very good results. It induced ground balls over 60% of the time, so while I don’t love sinker, I think this pitch serves a purpose for Taillon and he’s obviously used it to keep hitters off balance. He tunnels all his really well which only adds to the effectiveness and deception. Taillon does occasionally throw a changeup but it’s a bad pitch, Luckily, Taillon knew that and only threw it 3% of the time during the last month of 2018. He certainly doesn’t need it and it seems like he’s phasing it out. If Taillon can continue to have four plus-pitches, he could be an absolute monster in 2019. I can see why he’s flying up draft boards.
For 2019, my projections for Taillon are 188 IP 11 Wins, 3.64 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 190 Strikeouts
For your viewing pleasure, here’s Taillon throwing his fastball, curveball, and slider. Notice how all the release points are nearly identical, great tunneling.
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images