The Yankees lost their second straight on Friday night, but overall, the team has been on an upward climb and have gotten back to the .500 mark after a disastrous start.
A big reason for the team’s change in fortunes has been the length from its starting rotation, which was a glaring concern through the first three weeks of the season when Gerrit Cole was on the mound.
Jameson Taillon was one of the last starters who needed to show some length, and early on, it didn’t look like Friday would be that outing. After surrendering two home runs in the second inning, Taillon looked like he was poised for another short night, and wouldn’t record an out in the sixth inning for the first time this season.
But, Taillon settled down, pitching all the way into the seventh for his longest outing of the season and his longest since May 1 of 2019, his last before undergoing his second Tommy John surgery.
“I was excited to have the opportunity to go out there for the seventh,” Taillon said. “I felt really good, still felt like my stuff was really good…and we got the pitch count close to 100. Workload-wise, this was a really good step. That was my first time in the seventh in awhile.”
Taillon went through a groove on Friday after the home runs where he retired 15 in a row, starting right after he allowed a two-run homer to Yan Gomes in the second. He finished the night going 6.1 innings while allowing three hits and one walk, striking out five along the way.
“I thought as a lineup, they’re pretty professional,” Taillon said. “They’re always prepared…when I was in advantage counts, they were looking at the top of the zone for the fastball, knowing my tendencies. It just looked like they were making educated guesses and looking out over at certain parts of the plate…it took an adjustment from me, Gary and Matt Blake to start throwing the changeup a little but, drop the curveball for strikes…just to change their eye levels.”
Taillon’s season ERA now sits at 5.02, hardly where he wants it to be, but Friday was a good step as he continues to settle into what he hopes will be his first full season since 2018. Rotation mate Corey Kluber, who also hasn’t thrown a full season since 2018, has started to give the Yanks some more consistent length, a lead Taillon hopes to follow.
A key to consistently pitching into the seventh inning for Taillon will be an ability to make the in-game adjustments like he did on Friday, still putting the Yanks in position to win despite a rough beginning.
“I think tonight was a good lesson for me,” Taillon said. “What do I do when a team takes that pitch away from me? It’s on me and Gary to see where the hitter’s eyes are and what their takes and swings look like.”
Most importantly for Taillon, as he approaches his inning total from 2019 and begins putting together some of his longest outings in three years, he feels no physical effects from his second Tommy John.
“I feel extremely healthy,” Taillon said. “I’m not afraid to let it fly or rip a curveball. There’s still some lessons to learn, but overall, I’m confident in what I’m doing.”
Follow Ryan Chichester on Twitter: @ryanchichester1