Jameson Taillon’s Incredibly Hot Streak Continues

I gotta tell you, I was not really panicking last night when Jameson Taillon gave up a first-inning, two-run homer to Pete Alonso. For one thing, Alonso is just on a ridiculous power tear right now, so you tip your cap. It didn’t have to mean Taillon was in for a rough night. For another thing, Taillon has been so good lately that I just had confidence that he would not be rattled, and I had confidence it was not necessarily a sign that he was “off.”

That confidence wound up justified, as Taillon went on to throw six shutout innings from there, totaling seven innings on the night, allowing just three hits, no walks, the two earned runs, and striking out seven. For as much as the homer stung early, Taillon was close to perfect the rest of the way.

That’s now six straight very good starts from Taillon. Not-so-incidentally, the Cubs have won all six of those games.

Because of how bad the first half was, Taillon’s season numbers are still not what you’d want to see, especially the 5.17 ERA (though his 4.55 FIP is now actually extremely close to league-average, if you can believe it). But Taillon has been SO GOOD over the last five weeks or so that he’s transformed the season numbers into merely “bad,” rather than “oh dear god what is going on, this should not be possible.”

Taillon has a 2.17 ERA over his last six starts, during which time he’s thrown 37.1 innings (as in, he’s averaging more than six innings per outing). His strikeout rate is up only slightly in that time, and his walk rate is down only slightly. The biggest change has come in the contact quality, where Taillon just isn’t allowing nearly as many barrels or homers as he had been, and he’s also seen his groundball rate climb quite a bit (41.0% during this stretch, just 32.4% before it).

As for what has changed for Taillon, there were definitely some mechanical issues and pitch shape issues that the Cubs identified throughout the first half of the season, and he also changed his pitch mix pretty dramatically:

Read Sharma’s piece for the nitty gritty of it, but the short version is: this isn’t JUST a case of a veteran getting himself stabilized. There were actual changes made to get him back to where he is now, and that would seem all the more encouraging about how he could perform the rest of the way, when the Cubs need him most.

No, we probably shouldn’t be expecting a sub-3 ERA for the final two months of the season, but there’s no reason to believe that he can’t be a perfectly solid middle of the rotation starter. Just like he’s long been, and just like the Cubs signed him to be. And if he’s figured out a little something extra in this process of adjusting, hey, all the better.

written by

Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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