Tag Archives: Jameson Taillon

Pirates ready to see the real Tyler Glasnow

Glasnow ready for his second chance in 2017
It might seem as though Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Tyler Glasnow has been around in the prospect game for a long time. In fact, he has indeed.
He has steadily climbed the MLB Pipeline pre-season rankings. Prior to the 2014 season he was ranked as the 27th overall prospect. In 2015, he moved up to #12, then to #10 in 2016. Finally, prior to this season, Glasnow was ranked as the #9 overall prospect in the game.
For the last three years, Glasnow has been a Top 25 prospect in the rankings as presented by both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus.
Selected by Pittsburgh with their 5th round choice in the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft out of a California high school, Glasnow turned 24 years old just three weeks ago.
He was called up for his first taste of life in the big leagues in July of 2016. Then in September, Glasnow re-joined the Bucs to finish the season.
Overall in 2016 he appeared in seven games, making four starts. He allowed 22 hits over 23.1 innings while striking out 24 and walking 13 batters. The right-hander threw just 59% of his pitches for strikes.
While it was a largely inauspicious beginning, it was a beginning. Most prospects struggle during their first go-around in Major League Baseball. Glasnow had at least gotten his feet wet. It was hoped the experience would serve him well entering 2017, when he was expected to fill a rotation spot with the Pirates.

Big league fail, minor league recovery

He was indeed given that shot at the beginning of this season, but struggled mightily. Over a dozen starts, Glasnow surrendered 75 hits in 54.1 innings. He produced a modest 50/29 K:BB ratio. His ERA was through the roof at a 7.45 mark, and he was still throwing just 61% of his pitches for strikes.
Pittsburgh brass had seen enough. They returned their prized young pitcher to AAA Indianapolis for more seasoning.
Back with the Indianapolis Indians of the International League, it once again all kicked in for Glasnow. He would go 9-2 with a 1.93 ERA and 0.954 WHIP mark over 15 starts. He dominated minor league hitters, allowing just 57 hits over 93.1 innings. Glasnow also produced a sensational 140/32 K:BB ratio.
“It was at the point where I went down and it was like nothing else, it’s the worst it can get right now,” Glasnow said per MLB.com’s Alaina Getzenberg. “I was up here, I didn’t do very well, so it was the time to make a big change, and it was kind of like the perfect time for it. It clicked my first start in the Minor Leagues and I carried it on through.”

Second chance as season winds down

Just as clearly as he needed to go back down to find himself, it has now become clear that Glasnow is ready to come back up and prove himself.
A lost season is winding down in Pittsburgh. The Pirates won just nine of their previous 28 games before shutting out Milwaukee on Monday night.
Gerrit Cole will be 27 years old next year. Jameson Taillon will be 26 years old. An organization such as the Pirates can’t really afford to splurge on big-ticket free agents. They could desperately use Glasnow to emerge into a legitimate home-grown rotation force, joining those other two talented arms.
“I think when you come up here, you don’t want to step on anyone’s toes and you can kind of lose who you are a little bit,” said Glasnow per Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “What I learned most is just do what I do, just kind of be who I am and not worry about … obviously don’t come down and be an idiot, but just be yourself and don’t worry about stepping on anyone’s toes.”
The Pirates could use someone to loosen up their locker room, and Glasnow may be a great fit in that regard. But more importantly, they need him to just be himself on the mound. That self who scouts have envisioned, and who has dominated minor leaguers.
It’s time for that Glasnow to take the mound in the big leagues. His second chance will begin on Wednesday night in Milwaukee against the division rival Brewers.

Cole and Taillon are Keys to Pirates Contending in 2017

The Pittsburgh Pirates reached the MLB postseason in three straight seasons from 2013-15. But last year the club finished five games below the .500 mark in third place in the NL Central Division.
There were any number of factors that contributed to the downfall of the Bucs a year ago. But despite missing the playoffs and finishing with a losing record, a bounce-back is possible in the coming 2017 season.
Catching the young and multi-talented Chicago Cubs in the division race is probably not within reach this year. But winning the division is not the only route to the postseason.
Pittsburgh finished just 8.5 games in back of an NL Wildcard berth, even though nearly everything that could go wrong did go wrong.
“I think he’s going through an absolute metamorphosis in terms of his physical understanding, how to really manage his body over the course of a 162-game season, what the greatest red flags are for him that could sideline him or take him down,” said Ben Fairchild, the owner of Fairchild Sports Performance near Taillon’s hometown of Houston, Texas per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Bill Brink.
I don’t know that I’ve seen a pitcher of his prospectus at his young age that had endured so much severe injury, frankly,” Fairchild said.

Despite a significant slippage in performance from Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates offense was not the biggest problem last year. The club’s hitters finished 5th in OPS and 6th in Runs scored in the 2016 season.
But the team’s pitching staff simply didn’t get the job done. The Pittsburgh pitchers finished 9th in Quality Starts, 11th in Strikeouts, and 13th in Batting Average Against.
In the 2017 season, the Pirates would go a long way towards bouncing right back to contention if they receive strong, healthy seasons from their two most talented starting pitchers, Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon.
Cole was the first overall pick in the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft. In 2015, the righty finished 4th in the NL Cy Young voting after a tremendous season. At age 24, Cole allowed 183 hits over 208 innings with a 202/44 K:BB ratio.
But a year later, Cole battled injuries and ineffectiveness. He yielded 131 hits over just 116 innings in the 2016 season, with a 98/36 K:BB.
Taillon had been the second overall pick in the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft, a year before Cole came out. He was on his way to the big leagues when injuries derailed his career. The righty missed the entirety of the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
Many had given up on him. But still at just age 24, Taillon returned to the hill a year ago to make 18 big league starts. He looked every bit the top pick that he had been a few years earlier, allowing 99 hits over 104 innings with an 85/17 K:BB ratio.
Over at Baseball Prospectus, their Zach Crizer tried to dissect what went wrong with Cole last season. In the end, he came up with the following: “Two suspects immediately crowd our field of vision: injury and a very high BABIP.
Cole simply must show that he is healthy. And then he must show that he can once again leave hitters frustrated, consistently flailing away at his slider.
For Taillon, it would appear that he simply needs to stay healthy. Now that he is finally back, he needs to stay back. To that end the pitcher has undertaken a newfound appreciation for taking care of himself physically.
It’s only the first week of spring training down in Bradenton, Florida. But it’s been so far, so good for the two talented Bucs right-handers.
If the Pittsburgh Pirates don’t get healthy seasons from both Cole and Taillon, it is not likely to matter much what anyone else does. But if they do receive a full season worth of performances from both, there is no reason that Pittsburgh cannot again contend for an NL playoff spot.

For the Pittsburgh Pirates, No News is Bad News

For the Pittsburgh Pirates and their passionate fan base, the 2016 season was one of extreme disappointment. After three consecutive playoff appearances, the beloved Bucs missed the postseason party.
The Pirates struggled to a record of 78-83 last season, good only for third place in the National League Central Division.
In each of the prior three years, Pittsburgh came in second place, with the team repeatedly falling just short of a division crown. The club finished within two games in 2014 and 2015 after falling three games short in 2013.
In 2016, the Bucs fell 7.5 games short of the second-place St. Louis Cardinals. But that was not their biggest concern heading into the offseason. Pittsburgh also finished a distant 25 games behind the eventual World Series champion Chicago Cubs in the division race.

PITTSBURGH ENTERED THE OFFSEASON WITH DECISIONS TO MAKE

At the very least, the Pirates management went into the offseason needing to figure out a way to close the 8.5-game gap between themselves and the two NL Wild Card teams.
Pirates
There was much talk about Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington pursuing pitching. At one point, the Pirates were reportedly hot after Chicago White Sox lefty Jose Quintana.
Talk was also hot at one point in regards to Pittsburgh trying to deal away former NL MVP Andrew McCutchen for prospects. This would possibly signal that the team was looking to contend a couple of years down the line.
Clearly, the Bucs needed to do something. The status quo was not going to work out. Huntington either had to pull off a deal or two aimed at pushing the current team back into Wild Card contention, or he had to start rebuilding.
In the end, the GM accomplished neither. The Pirates were unable to either acquire Quintana or deal away McCutchen.

OFFSEASON ADDITION AND SUBTRACTION DOESN’T ADD UP

The one positive accomplishment of the offseason was the re-signing of their own free agent starting pitcher Ivan Nova.
The losses from last year’s third-place club don’t seem all that big on the surface, but they absolutely took away from the team’s veteran depth. Reliever Neftali Feliz, pitchers Ryan Vogelsong and Jeff Locke, and bench position players Sean Rodriguez and Matt Joyce are all gone.
Coming into the fold is veteran right-handed pitcher Daniel Hudson, who turns 30 years old early in spring training. Hudson worked his way back from missing nearly three full seasons to become a reliable reliever the last two years in Arizona. Over 134 games he allowed 139 hits in 138 innings, with a 129/47 K:BB ratio.
If Hudson stays healthy, he could make up for the loss of Feliz as skipper Clint Hurdle‘s primary setup man.
But these were the only moves of any real significance made by a team that finished with a losing record. Replace the setup man and keep the pitching rotation together. That’s it.

CAN THE PIRATES CONTEND WITHOUT MOVES?

For the Pirates to get back to playoff contention, they are going to need a return to All-Star form from McCutchen.
Pittsburgh is also going to need a leap forward in production from a pair of youngsters in right fielder Gregory Polanco and first baseman Josh Bell.
Pittsburgh is also going to need all three of their potential young stud starting pitchers to stay healthy. Gerrit ColeJameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow making 30+ starts each would go a long way toward a Wild Card berth.
Even with all the right answers from their in-house players, the Bucs are not likely to catch the Cubs this season. They will need all those right answers just to battle for a postseason berth.

THE ‘CUTCH’ QUESTION

What if McCutchen continues to struggle, losing even more trade value? He turned 30 years old in October and is in the final guaranteed season of his contract. There is a reasonable $14.75 team option for 2018. How should the club approach that option if he deteriorates further?
If the Pirates were going to deal McCutchen, the offseason would have seemed the time to do it. A contender could then have watched him acclimate in spring training, and then plugged him into their starting lineup from the beginning.
The failure of management to generate any real news of significance this offseason, one way or the other, could come back to haunt the Pirates. Not just in the 2017 season, but possibly for years to come.

Pirates Pitching Will Determine Return to Contention

The Pittsburgh Pirates missed the MLB postseason this season for the first time in four years and will need to address their pitching depth in order to return.

After a drought of more than two decades, the Pittsburgh Pirates returned to the Major League Baseball postseason as an NL Wild Card team in 2013. 
The Bucs then returned to the playoffs in each of the next two seasons as well, again as one of the NL’s Wild Card clubs.
The Pirates won that Wild Card Game in 2013 over the Cincinnati Reds, but were eliminated in a tough five-game Division Series by the eventual world champion St. Louis Cardinals.
The Pirates were then beaten in the Wild Card Game in both 2014 and 2015. This season, Pittsburgh slipped to their first losing record in four years. 
They finished in third place, 25 games behind the eventual World Series champion Chicago Cubs.
A look at the Pirates lineup reveals that with a couple of tweaks, the club could return to at least that NL Wild Card level of playoff contention. 
Add a legitimate power threat at first base, maybe a better catcher, and you can hit with most teams.
But the real key to any chance of the Pirates returning to the playoffs will be their pitching staff. 

The Pittsburgh staff ranked 18th in ERA, 22nd in Quality Starts and Strikeouts, and 26th in Batting Average Against in 2016.
Those numbers simply aren’t going to cut it for any club that has postseason aspirations.
The 2017 Pirates rotation is likely to feature three extremely talented youngsters at the top in Gerrit ColeJameson Taillon, and Tyler Glasnow.
Cole was the first overall pick back in the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft out of UCLA. After reaching all of the heights predicted when his 2015 campaign resulted in an All-Star nod and a fourth place finish in the NL Cy Young Award voting, this year was a major letdown.
Lost to injury in early June, Cole didn’t return until after the MLB All-Star break. He was then shut down for all but one brief appearance in the final month of the season. 
Altogether his season resulted in three DL stints, the final one perhaps the most troubling. He was shut down at the end with elbow troubles.
Once they were obviously out of any postseason challenge this year, shutting down Cole was a no-brainer. But now the problem with their potential ace is what to expect next year, and then on into the future.
Ray Searage and Gerrit had conversations about where Gerrit is mechanically and what was different this year from last year,” GM Neal Huntington said per triblive.com’s Rob Biertempfel.
“…what could work to allow him to get that 200-inning threshold to become that workhorse. There always some minor adjustments that we can make with guys to help them get a little bit better.”
Assuming that Cole can put his injury woes behind him, his talent should allow him to return to the level of a true ace in 2017.
Taillon is yet another injury issue. Another former high draft pick, Taillon was selected by the Bucs with the second overall pick the year prior to Cole.
 A series of injuries throughout his minor league career pushed back his development, and he finally made it to the big leagues this past season.
In his 2016 rookie debut, Taillon went 5-4 with a 3.38 ERA over 18 starts. He allowed 99 hits in 104 innings, and recorded an 85/17 K:BB ratio.
Those were encouraging numbers for a pitcher who turns 25 years old in a couple of weeks. But more encouraging perhaps was that he remained healthy and in the rotation all year after his early June promotion.
Injuries were also an issue for Glasnow, one of the most hyped arms in all of minor league baseball as the season got underway. 
The 23-year-old right-hander made two starts in July, then another two at the end of the season. In between he also made a handful of September appearances out of the bullpen.
If all three of these young arms are healthy and ready to compete in 2017, the Pirates are still going to need another arm or two, preferably an innings-eating veteran such as Jeremy Hellickson, who seems to be high on the wish list for at least a half-dozen teams.
Assuming everything falls into place perfectly with the rotation, Pittsburgh is still going to have to put together a competitive bullpen. Tony Watson is listed as the closer right now, but he is not ideal in that role.
The best arm in the bullpen this past season may have been 28-year-old Neftali Feliz. However, he is a free agent and could become a closer again with some team.
25-year-old Felipe Rivero, who came in the trade deadline deal of closer Mark Melancon with the Washington Nationals, may be the best arm in the pen.
Rivero, Watson, righty Juan Nicasio and lefty Antonio Bastardo are a good start, but this group needs one or two bigger arms at the back to truly contend.


The Pittsburgh Pirates are not catching the Cubs in 2017, or likely any time soon thereafter either. But they finished just eight games in the loss column behind the NL Wild Card teams. Making up that difference will depend on getting the pitching staff fixed.