Pittsburgh Pirates starter Jameson Taillon debuted a new pitch this month, and it’s already gotten rave reviews. Here’s everything we know so far about the young righty’s new slider.
It’s been a weird season for Pittsburgh Pirates’ right-hander Jameson Taillon.
Thought to be the closest thing a club has to an “Ace,” Taillon flashed ace-like form with a complete game shutout in his second start before wandering off into a wilderness of quasi-ineffectiveness.
Taillon needed to do something, lest his season be doomed to remain an up and down affair. Enter a new pitch.
After flashing a new slider twice in each of his May 11th and May 22nd outings, Taillon fully committed to the pitch against the Cardinals in his last start. On May 27th, in an eventual 4-3 loss to St. Louis, Taillon offered the pitch 30 times, showing that it was here to stay.
It’s only been 34 pitches, but here’s what we know about Taillon’s slider to this point:
Let’s just go ahead and put out our “small sample size alert” as we go through this.
It’s not just an out pitch
The first thing to notice about Taillon’s slider is that it isn’t your typical “breaking ball out pitch.”
With the Pirates’ fastball heavy doctrine firmly in place, one might assume that breaking stuff would be meant to be shown only in out counts. That’s not the case here, as Taillon has shown a similar amount of comfort — albeit against a very small sample size — in using the pitch to get back into at-bats, especially at 2-1 and 1-0 counts.
That’s awfully encouraging for the pitch’s future. The Pittsburgh Pirates are likely imagining a world in which Taillon can spin a curveball or hurl a slider at any point in the count to go along with a heavy sinking fastball. Intriguing to say the least.
Left hand bats don’t see it
Right now, only six of Taillon’s 34 sliders thrown to this point have been offered to left-handed bats. Five of those six were offered to Matt Carpenter.
Perhaps Taillon’s curve still doesn't have the bite he wants it to have. As per Brooks Baseball, it has an average of 1.87 inches of vertical movement to date — and 2.92 inches of horizontal movement.
Movement is certainly not everything with a slider, though.
Though Taillon’s slider carries good spin — 2421 rpm — thus negating the need for harder bite, it could be entirely possible that the pitch is left up and in on lefties a bit more than the young hurler would like. Or, it could just mean that the sample size is still too small to draw a significant conclusion. I’m going to place myself purely in that camp, though this nugget is worth noting.
It just looks pretty
Sorry, but it does. Here’s a couple to illustrate this very important point and also bring this piece to a close on a high note: