A Close Look at Pittsburgh Pirates Starter Jameson Taillon

Jameson Taillon

Pittsburgh Pirates right-handed pitcher Jameson Taillon was the second draft pick in 2010, behind Bryce Harper, but his career was temporarily derailed by Tommy John surgery and a sports hernia in 2014 and 2015. He reached the major leagues in June of 2016 at the age of 24, and was Pittsburgh’s most effective starter by ERA+, putting up a 3.38 ERA (124 ERA+) and a 1.115 WHIP en route to a 5-4 record in 104 innings pitched.

What he throws. Taillon has a fairly simple repertoire consisting of a four-seam fastball (“FF”), a sinker (also called a two-seam fastball, “FT”), curve (“CU”), and changeup (“CH”). His two fastballs are quite distinct, with the four-seam version having less horizontal movement and more vertical “rise” than the sinker; it is also, on average, very slightly faster (95.0 vs 94.7 mph). His curve has good movement, especially vertically:

Pitch usage and trends. Taillon’s most frequently-used pitches are his sinker (“FT”), which he uses 45.5% of the time, and his curve (26.3%). He increases the use of his curve to right-handed batters when ahead in the count, cutting back on his changeup in those conditions. When behind in the count, he uses his sinker much more often (55.2% of pitches) and his curve less (12.4%):

Early after his major-league debut, Taillon seemed to be somewhat cautious with his changeup and curve, but increased their use after a few starts. He maintained his velocity well over the course of the season:

Pitch value. Taillon’s fastballs are around average, or worse, in terms of effectiveness, based on total bases per 100 pitches. (It’s important to remember that pitches are not thrown in isolation; for example, even though his four-seam fastball may seem ineffective on its own, it probably increases the effectiveness of all his other pitches through contrast and deception.) Both fastballs were less effective against left-handed batters, while his curve and changeup were more effective against left-handed than right-handed batters. His changeup in particular had very wide platoon splits, being extremely effective against lefties but much worse than average against RHB, explaining why he rarely used that pitch to righties. Overall, Taillon had little platoon split in 2016: Right-handed batters had an OPS of .731 against him, lefties .671. Taillon threw strikes with all his pitches, all of them being average or better in terms of balls per 100 pitches:

Pitch location. Taillon’s four-seam fastball and his sinker end up in very different locations within the strike zone. His four-seamers tend to target the top of the zone, while his sinkers cluster in the bottom, outside to left-handed batters and inside to righties. His curve is also thrown for strikes at the bottom of the zone, while his changeups are mainly along the edge of the strike zone, inside to right-handed batters and outside to lefties:

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Featured image courtesy of Julie Jacobson/AP Photo.

About Ian York 208 Articles
Ian is an immunologist and virologist who lives in Atlanta with his wife and two sons. Most of his time is spent driving his kids to baseball and soccer games, during which he indoctrinates his children on the glories of Pedro Martinez, the many virtues of the Montreal Expos, and other important information.

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