Dunlap: Taillon Rises Amid Dismal Pirates Season

Pirates RHP living up to expectations

Colin Dunlap
September 13, 2018 - 1:14 pm

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Pirates season is done. Has been for a pretty long while. Heck, I don't blame you if you aren't paying much attention anymore. I don't blame you if you're watching Wheel of Fortune and then Matlock reruns instead. It is what it is, free up your evenings.  

Los Buccos went on that 11-game win streak, added a couple pieces at the deadline, but for the most part faded into oblivion --- or, really, a chase to finish the season .500. Such a mark doesn't do much for me. I guess it's better to win more than you lose, but it doesn't do much for me. 

That why somewhere in the early portion of August I proclaimed that I wanted to see a couple things individually from the Pittsburgh Pirates. An NL Central crown was totally not in the cards and a Wild Card spot was a pipe dream. That said, show me some growth individually; show me some things that I can hang my hat on. So much so that throughout the offseason I can get excited to want to see when Bradenton rolls around and then in through the 2019 season. Keep me interested; keep me coming back. 

One of them was clear as day: I wanted to see starter Jameson Taillon grow into the force on the mound to match his pedigree. We all know where he was drafted, now show a sustained span of time and pitch to that level. I wanted to see him --- no matter where the team was in the standings --- be a man to stand tall and strike fear. He needed to pitch with conviction and get results at the tail end of the 2018 season, no matter if the Pirates finished 12 games out in the Central or 30 games behind. 

He's done that. 

He's done more than that. 

Taillon, right now, is becoming an ace. We are seeing it happen every fifth day. 

There's no denying this Pirates season has been overwhelmingly steeped in negativity. This team, quite simply, hasn't been good enough. Even as they showed flashes at times, the early-season bullpen struggles and the all-season offensive struggles have really limited the club. Also, they still have no idea from where they are going to get power as they rank 13th out of 15 National League teams in home runs.

Is Polanco going to be the home run guy? Is Marte? What's up with Bell's light tower power? Where'd that go?

Can a third baseman hit a home run? Please? 

The Pirates also are in the bottom third of the NL in runs scored. It has been an arduous grind to be sure, particularly on the offensive side. 

But back to Taillon ... 

He's becoming a stud. Don't let the bad baseball you see many times on the North Shore fool you. Don't let your shouts of needing to spend more money (and they need to) gloss over a real story that is happening --- Jameson Taillon is dominating baseball games right now. 

In a ridiculous stat, he has held the opposition to three earned runs or fewer in his last 19 starts. That isn't a fluke or an accidental run of success. It's nineteen freaking starts. The league has, make no mistake, had a chance to push back. They just haven't been able to. He's been that good since the beginning of June. He's baffling hitters by not pitching to contact, but instead setting them down. Taillon has 10 combined strikeouts in his last two starts and nine times this season had had games where he's fanned 7 or more. In his past four starts he has struck out 25 hitters while allowing just three walks.

That's throwing a ton of effective strikes. That's growing into a leader of the staff.  

When May ended, Taillon had an ERA of 4.53. Right now that number is at 3.37 and he's accumulated 13 wins. 

Believe me, I'm not trying to make the Pirates season into something it hasn't been. They've disappointed. I wanted more and you should demand more.

But all that said, there's something overwhelmingly positive happening in Pirateville right now --- Jameson Taillon doesn't just look like an ace from time to time. He's pitching like it every time he takes the ball.