Jameson Taillon firing strikes in Spring Training. PHOTO Rumbunter.com

Pittsburgh Pirates Talent Surplus: Starting Pitching

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have a surplus of starting pitching.  You never thought the time would come did you?  A team that struggled to so badly it went dumpster diving for Dana Eveland a few years back, is now left with difficult decisions as Opening Day approaches.  Not really a lot of hard decisions, but enough to make fans pay attention.  The hardest decisions will actually come next season.

The Pirates have a rookie of the year candidate in Jameson Taillon who would look better than most of the starting pitching that will be on the Opening Day 25-man roster.  So why was he sent to Triple-A and won’t be in the rotation on Opening Day?

Jameson Taillon still needs fine tuning we are told by the Pirates brass.

You know what?  We believe it. Taillon isn’t a finished product. Far from it in our eyes. But is Taillon better than most of the five pitchers that will be in the rotation Opening Day? Absolutely. But still, we would do the exact same thing the Pirates did.

The Bucs need a confident Taillon on the mound.  A guy that can locate the fastball, set up the hammer and wipe out hitters he is supposed to wipe out.   Right now it seems like Taillon is still thinking a bit too much.

We would have done the same thing the Bucs did.  The team has starters it can win with until Taillon is prettied up, roughed up and coached up in Indianapolis.  Jeanmar Gomez has started for the Pirates.  Gomez can hold down a spot in the Bucs rotation.  Brandon Cumpton can do the same thing.  Neither of them are Jameson Taillon, but the expectations of the Pirates number two overall pick are lofty.

The Pirates can’t afford to allow him to throw one pitch at the big league level until less thinking and more muscle memory takes over.  The delivery is still a work in progress.  The changeup must be thrown with confidence.  Holding runners, you get the picture, you’ve heard it all before.  The checklist isn’t finished.

The big right-hander has been talked about a lot for years now.  Some baseball scouts whisper that he will be better than Gerrit Cole. Sorry. Keep whispering.  We don’t see that happening.

It might have been the same scout who said this about Alvarez in BA: “I hope I’m wrong, but if you didn’t know he was Pedro Alvarez, you’d NP him,” the scout said, using scouting shorthand for labeling a player as No Prospect.

Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon run along the outfield track at McKechnie Field.

Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon run along the outfield track at McKechnie Field.

Scouts whisper for a reason.  Taillon isn’t being asked to be better than Gerrit Cole. Jameson Taillon just needs to be himself.  We can only trust that he took each snippet of advice from Ray Searage and will now act on it.

Act on it feverishly.

Because while the Pirates have a surplus of pitching at the moment, it might not last long.

Should Taillon struggles early at Indianapolis, don’t be alarmed, it probably just means he is trying to work the plan he was given. The right-hander has a lot to prove and there are a lot worse things that could happen than him spending five months completing his body of work in Indianapolis.

In concluding this series, the Pirates are putting together a powerful lineup backed by solid pitching and defense. A calvary of young talent is also still growing and maturing in the minors, some of them just a phone call away from improving the 25-man roster. It’s also a rather explosive, but cost controlled roster with numerous questions, but a lot more answers than Pirates fans have been accustomed to over the years.

Read the surplus of surplus columns on the Bucs below:

Pirates Talent Surplus: Outfield Edition is here

Pirates Talent Surplus:  Starting Pitching

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