Rum Bunter’s 2018 Pittsburgh Pirates Preview: Nick

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
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Pittsburgh Pirates Taillon
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

Team CY Young- Jameson Taillon

The Pittsburgh Pirates traded away Gerrit Cole this past off-season.  Cole has been the team’s number one pitcher over the last few years.  The proverbial ace was shipped out to Houston, which raised questions about who will the team’s new number one.  The current rotation is Jameson Taillon, Ivan Nova, Trevor Williams, Chad Kuhl, and likely Joe Musgrove.  So which one of these starters will take over as the tam’s number one?

The most obvious candidate is former number two overall pick Jameson Taillon.  Taillon, of course, was one of the most highly touted arms in baseball while he worked his way up the minor league levels.  The Texas native has endured a lot in his young career, however.  After undergoing Tommy-John Surgery in 2015, he had to battle testicular cancer last season.  Still, he has not been deterred and has continued to grow as a pitcher.  He looked very sharp early on last year.  Taillon did regress some toward on the back end of last season, but that was to be expected with everything he went through.

Taillon ended up owning ERA north of 4.00 last season, which suggests not a number one pitcher.  However, he did have a BABip of .352, which according to FanGraphs was the highest among qualified starters.  BABip, of course, is “batting average on balls in play.”  Generally speaking, a pitcher with a high BABip suggests that he had some bad luck with balls finding holes.  Also, his FIP was 3.48 along with a xFIP of 3.89.  These numbers suggest where his ERA should have been taking in account bad luck and having better defense behind him.  All in all, Taillon had a lot of factors working against him on and off the field.

If Taillon can stay healthy, the number one spot is his for the taking.  This is what the Pittsburgh Pirates imagined when they invested the second overall pick in him back in 2010.  The 6’5” righty has the frame and stuff to be a number one.  He has a firm fastball that sits 94-95 and a wipe out curveball.  Compared to the rest of the staff, Taillon has the best makeup to be a top of the rotation arm.  Also, he has now pitched in parts of two seasons, and he should be more than ready to take his game to the next level and be this team’s CY Young.