Jameson Taillon will readily admit that allowing three runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Nationals on Tuesday night “isn't the line for an elite stat.”
But being able to self-correct his fastball command enough to put in a decent showing after a faltering early start, he felt there was a more important continuation of what he started with a season-best eight closing innings at Yankee Stadium in his final start before the All-Star break.
“I felt like myself out there, and I felt like I was trending in that direction for a while,” says Taillon.
Taillon's ERA still sits at a disappointing 6.05, mainly boosted by lefties for a 0.969 OPS against him. That particular struggle has sparked some conversation about putting Taillon's cutter—whose batsman has had a . 345 batting average this year—on the backburner.
To that end, Tuesday looked like Taillon's preview moving forward, with a four-seam fastball and curveball accounting for 71 of his 92 shots on the night. But the Cubs' biggest free agent signing this past winter believes rebuilding consistent driving action at his four seams, and the better command that comes with that consistency, has been key to the good and bad of seasons.
“I don't think the plan is to dispose of (my cutter) at all costs, I still want to be able to backdoor into strikes and keep people honest,” Taillon said. “I'm going to get a bad count because of my four stitches and a misfire at the top of the zone, so uncompetitive. I put the catcher in such a bad spot where they had to call a cutter to get me back on the count, and at that point, the cutter almost served as a BP fastball.
Four seams and a curveball should be Taillon's “feature” offering going forward against a series of teams who are sure to stack left-handed bats against him to try to capitalize on his first-half struggles. But the more Taillon's four stitches work the top of the strike zone, the more of his six throw mix—cutting included—he can comfortably work with.
Now he had the feeling twice in a row like it was reality.
Said Taillon: “There is a human element too. I know I can do it. I've done it before. This is what it looks like, this is what it feels like.”
One step closer to a healthy center field
Dansby Swanson was on the court long before batting practice on Thursday, testing his left heel bruise under coach supervision. Manager David Ross reiterated that the All-Star shortstop could return from the injured list during this weekend's series against the Cardinals.
Nick Madrigal flew in Thursday night to begin a brief rehab stint at Triple-A Iowa. Ross said that if all goes well, Madrigal could return from injuring his right hamstring on Tuesday to play his old team, White Sox crosstown.
“That would be the ideal scenario,” Ross said with a smile.
Wisdom in the use of Patrick
Ross said Patrick Wisdom will primarily start against left-handed starters, and is also a left-hander with “throwing characteristics that are in line with his swing path”.
Per Statcast, Wisdom is slugging .667 against ballast this season, but only .297 against four-seam fastballs. That might give a good hint as to what kind of lefty he'll be up against.