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Jameson Taillon to Cubs - Fantasy Baseball Impact

Jameson Taillon fantasy baseball rankings draft sleepers MLB injury news pitchers

We have seen a ton of big-time news in recent days. Huge names like Jacob deGrom, Justin Verlander, Aaron Judge, and Trea Turner have signed massive contracts just in the last week.

The thing about fantasy baseball, however, is that the player moves that have the biggest impact are the mid-range players like Taillon. For an established stud player, it doesn't matter all that much where they sign - their draft stock won't change much. Players like Taillon are more interesting to consider for fantasy purposes, so let's get into it.

We will take a look at Jameson Taillon's career, zoom in on what he did last season, and then give some thoughts on what to do with him in 2023.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received five total writing awards and 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, tops in the industry! Congrats to all the award winners and nominees including Best MLB Series, NFL Series, NBA Writer, PGA Writer and Player Notes writer of the year. Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!

 

The Jameson Taillon Comeback

Not too many people have been through all of the things Taillon has been through. He has gone through two different Tommy John surgeries, and also went through a bout with testicular cancer as well. All of that had a brutal impact on his career, which was especially disappointing for baseball fans given that Taillon was the second overall pick in the 2010 drafts. Here are his Major League innings pitched since his debut with Pittsburgh in 2016:

 

So between the summer of 2018 and the spring of 2021, Taillon hardly pitched in competitive baseball games. That made it feel like a bit of a longshot that Taillon could return to a Major League rotation and pitch well ahead of the 2021 season, but Taillon gritted it out and put up back-to-back positive seasons with the Yankees.

 

Jameson Taillon's Recent Performance

I choose the word "positive" there because I can't say they were great considering we are a fantasy sports website. He put up a 4.30 ERA in 2021 and a 3.91 mark in 2022 while making 61 starts. Here are some more numbers on what he did over these last two season with the Yankees.

K% BB% K-BB% CSW% SwStr% Brl% GB%
21.9% 5.6% 16.3% 28.0% 12.3% 8.3% 38.4%

These are middling numbers. The marks in K%, CSW%, and SwStr% all almost exactly match the league average, so that gives you some idea of what he's been able to do.

The one thing he is not average in is walking hitters. Taillon finished with the league's seventh-lowest walk rate among pitchers with at least 25 starts in 2022.

Pitcher GS BB%
Corey Kluber 31 3.0%
Aaron Nola 32 3.5%
Kevin Gausman 31 3.9%
George Kirby 25 4.1%
Max Fried 30 4.1%
Justin Verlander 28 4.4%
Jameson Taillon 32 4.4%
Cole Irvin 30 4.5%
Shane Bieber 31 4.6%
Zack Greinke 26 4.6%

 

This is very good news for Taillon, as it goes a long way to giving us a WHIP that is helpful to a fantasy team. Only 12 starters last season had a walk rate below 5%, and eight of those pitchers posted WHIPs below 1.10, which would be very good for a fantasy team.

 

Jameson Taillon Thoughts for 2023

Right now, Taillon is closer to a streamer option than an every-week starter for a standard league fantasy team. With that great walk rate though, it wouldn't take a ton of improvement to get the 31-year-old to the next level. What will probably need to happen is at least a slight uptick in the strikeout rate. One thing Taillon has going for him is a super deep pitch mix, here's that breakdown from 2022:

Pitch Usage CSW% SwStr%
4-Seam 35.7% 29.1% 11.2%
Slider 18.9% 31.4% 13.6%
Curveball 14.8% 33.6% 13.0%
Sinker 11.1% 20.2% 6.1%
Cutter 11.0% 24.3% 12.0%
Changeup 8.4% 18.6% 10.1%

There's not a single pitch that is really bad shown here, but there also isn't a pitch that really, really stands out. What we could see Taillon do is trade in some four-seamers for cutters or throw more curveballs and sliders - stuff like that. He has plenty of options, and some of those options could very well result in him generating more whiffs and therefore strikeouts. I think it's unlikely that he ticks up to 24-25% next year, but it's certainly more likely for something like that to happen with a pitcher that has more weapons rather than fewer.

We haven't mentioned the team change yet, so let's talk about that. Last season, his schedule broke down like this:

Opponent GS
TOR 6
BAL 4
TB 4
LAA 2
MIN 2
OAK 2
SEA 2
CLE 1
CWS 1
CHC 1
HOU 1
PIT 1
KC 1
MIL 1
TEX 1

Facing the Blue Jays six times is no walk in the park (facing any team that much isn't going to be good for you as they really get used to seeing your pitches), but he did see a lot of the bad offenses of the Rays, Angels, and Athletics. So it was a middling schedule I would say.

The National League Central is an appealing place to pitch. The league average OPS in 2022 was .704. The Cardinals posted a strong mark at .744, but the rest of the division came up short (Milwaukee .721, Cincinnati .674, Pittsburgh .652). So he will have to make 2-4 starts against the Cardinals, and will likely have to pitch in Great American Ballpark a couple of times as well. Those matchups probably cancel out the advantageous spots he will find against the Pirates and the Reds at home, so overall I don't think the schedule is making a big difference here.

In terms of the ballpark, it is an upgrade. According to Statcast, Busch Stadium shaves about 5% off of offensive production, while Yankees Stadium was at just 1% below average. Taillon was about league average at allowing homers, but Wrigley Field is certainly more friendly to fly-ball pitchers than Yankees Stadium is (something like a 10% difference or so in the data).

 

Fantasy Baseball Conclusion

This is a positive move for Taillon, and it should move him up slightly in the SP ranks. Given the lower strikeout rate and less than impressive underlying metrics we have seen from him over the last two years, however, I cannot rank him in the top 50 SPs. Right now I have him at #60 in my ranks, right around Merrill Kelly, Mike Clevinger, and Tyler Mahle.

Hope this helps, thanks for keeping it locked here on RotoBaller!



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