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Bucco Breakfast: Inside Jameson Taillon’s 2018 Strikeouts

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How did Pittsburgh’s ace comprise his punchouts?

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports

2018 marked the first year that Pittsburgh Pirates SP Jameson Taillon struck out more batters than the league-wide rate.

Welcome to Bucco Breakfast, a new daily morning feature designed to help Pittsburgh Pirates fans through the offseason. Each day we’ll roll out a quick topic designed to spark conversation as well as provide some interesting baseball reading from around the web.

For this week’s Bucco Breakfast menu, we will look at how each Pirates’ starting pitcher earned his strikeouts in 2018. First up: Jameson Taillon.

Type and Location

A quick look at the pitch types and locations of Taillon’s strikeout shows somewhat of a standard profile for someone with Taillon’s pitch selection. Fastballs in and out of the zone, curveballs and sinkers with good movement. Pretty standard stuff.

Things get a good bit more interesting when we focus on how well Taillon used the edges:

Here we see that just about half of Taillon’s 179 strikeouts (86 to be exact) came on the edges, and of those 86, a large swath came from the four-seam fastball.

If you subscribe to the Baseball Prospectus theory of command vs. control, this bodes very well. Please do take the time to read the full feature over at BP; For now, a simple graphic can help describe this theory:

Control is great and all, but keeping a ball out of the heart of the zone and still getting hitters to swing and miss...that, my friends, is true command. Of those 38 strikeouts on the edges on Taillon’s four-seam fastball, 25 came on swings and misses.

2018 marked the first season in Jameson Taillon’s young career in which he struck out more batters (22.8 percent) than the MLB-wide rate for qualified starting pitchers, which clocked in at 21.6 percent.

With his newfound slider joining his already sturdy four-seam fastball, it is now time for Pittsburgh Pirates fans to wonder just how much more padding Taillon can put between his strikeout totals and the rest of baseball.

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