Jameson Taillon has a UCL tear and needs Tommy John surgery, the Pirates have announced. This isn't that surprising, given that Taillon had elbow discomfort and got a second opinion on Monday, and the Pirates didn't announce anything about that until now.
"The initial diagnosis was that the ligament was in tact, but potentially compromised and that he had sustained an injury to it. We went to get a second opinion. Also during that second opinion was a period of rest," Neal Huntington said, noting that Taillon's ulnar collateral ligament was "compromised."
"When the ligament is ruptured, it’s a no-brainer -- you need surgery. When it’s compromised, it’s a gray area," Huntington said. "As much as we all want to make medical issues black and white, they are very gray." Taillon chose to have the surgery after being presented with his options.
My first inclination about this was probably the same as everyone's -- a huge groan. But it might not be that bad, at least not in the long term. Taillon will probably make his way back next year and be fine. This may not end up having much impact on the value the Pirates get out of him, since he won't accumulate service time while he's gone.
The Pirates will not, of course, have him available this year, which is the real shame. Taillon projects to be better than Edinson Volquez or Jeff Locke, and could have provided a nice upgrade for the Bucs down the stretch. Given the question marks surrounding Volquez, in particular, the Pirates may have to trade for a pitcher at some point if they end up contending. They still have depth, but I'm not sure it's particularly quality depth. They have three strong pitchers in Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano and Charlie Morton, and they have whatever they can get out of Wandy Rodriguez. There now isn't much hope that they can find another strong starter from inside their organization, unless Volquez miraculously becomes one. Let's just hope everyone else stays healthy.
David Manel contributed to this post.