Game 78, Pirates at Mariners
Wade Miley vs. Jameson Taillon, 7:10pm
Wade Miley returns from the DL, swapping out with Nick Vincent, who’ll head to the DL with a back problem. The M’s have certainly been hit hard by injuries in the first half, with Miley, Felix, Vincent, Adrian Sampson, Tony Zych, Joaquin Benoit, Leonys Martin and Ketel Marte all missing time, and Evan Scribner, Charlie Furbush and Ryan Cook suffering injuries during the spring.
Tonight’s game’s an interesting one, as the M’s get a look at long-heralded pitching prospect Jameson Taillon. Taillon went #2 overall back in the 2010 draft, a spot ahead of Manny Machado, and worked his way up the ladder, hitting AAA in 2013. He’s been a top-100 prospect, and even a top 10 prospect in baseball several times. He was primed for his big league debut in 2014, but blew out his elbow in April, spending 18 months rehabbing from TJ surgery. He then needed a hernia surgery that further delayed his return to baseball, so Pirates fans were justifiably nervous of what he’d be like when he started out with the Pirates’ AAA club this April. Taillon still sits in the mid 90s with his two fastballs, and his control seemed, if anything, better than before, and with the Pirates dealing with injury issues of their own, they brought him up. In his 2nd start, he took a no-hitter into the 8th inning against the Mets, and he looked like a guy who could spearhead a surge for Pittsburgh in the second half.
Things haven’t looked quite as rosy since that start against on June 14th. It’s just two starts, but he’s given up 16 hits and 8 runs in 8 IP since, with a 3-HR drubbing by the Cubs, and then another loss (at home) to the Dodgers. Any pitcher will have a couple of clunkers in their gamelog, so it’s not a big red flag, but it’s something to watch – can he keep big league lefties off the basepaths consistently?
No disrespect to his mid-90s heat, but Taillon’s best pitch is a great curve ball, a pitch that’s pretty firm at 80-81 MPH and features remarkable downward break. He’s got a change-up, but it doesn’t seem to be thought of as highly, and it looks pretty mediocre by pitch fx. His fastballs movement is nothing to write home about, as he’s essentially got dead-on average “rise” on both his four-seam and sinker. This scouting report notes his height and downward plane (at 6’5″, his release point’s a bit higher than average), but thus far, batters have elevated his four-seamer pretty easily. The sinker gets grounders, but it’s his curve’s ridiculous break that makes it his best ground ball pitch (when batters can put it in play, that is).
We can’t say too much about Taillon’s prospects, but given his struggles, I was struck by this scouting report mentioning that batters may get a long look at the ball in Taillon’s delivery. Taillon’s got plenty of velo, but his fastballs have both been hit hard thus far. Maybe that’s just a function of him running into a ridiculous Cubs club with less-than-his-best-stuff, but maybe there’s something to the idea that his fastball plays slower than it actually is.
1: Martin, CF
2: Smith, LF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, RF
5: Seager, 3B
6: Lee, DH
7: Lind, 1B
8: Clevenger, C
9: Marte, SS
Glad to see Dae Ho Lee get more at-bats against righties, and not be limited to strict platoon duty. Like many hitters who’ve played in NPB, he doesn’t show much in the way of platoon splits, and he’s actually hitting a bit better vs. RHP this year than lefties.
Guillermo Heredia’s in Tacoma now with Boog Powell suspended. Jesus Sucre’s with the Rainiers as well as he continues to rehab his leg. Zach Lee lasted just 3 IP in a loss to Fresno yesterday, but Tom Wilhelmsen was solid in relief, and Mike Zunino had 3 hits.