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Bucco Breakfast: Pitcher Notes From PiratesFest

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

Taillon’s slider, Kuhl’s elbow and Lyles’ analytics were discussed at PiratesFest last Saturday.

Jameson Taillon

Taillon’s 2018 season can be divided into two parts: pre-slider and post-slider. From May 27- the day he started using it consistently- on, he finished ninth in baseball in ERA (2.71) and 14th in FIP (3.20) (Min. 90 IP).

While his slider was a game changer for him, he actually had mediocre numbers with it. Batters made solid contact and posted above average results against his new offering.

Jameson Taillon slider vs. MLB Average

Slider Batting Average xwOBA Whiff Rate (%)
Slider Batting Average xwOBA Whiff Rate (%)
Taillon 0.237 0.308 14.4
League Average 0.209 0.259 17
Taillon’s Slider vs. MLB Average Baseball Savant

The pitch has been a key offseason project for Taillon, who didn’t get a chance to experiment with it last year.

“Most major league guys would take an offseason to develop a pitch, or take years to develop a pitch,” Taillon said. “I just tried one grip, it didn’t work. I tried a second one, it worked. I stuck with it and I just started throwing it.”

Chad Kuhl

Kuhl’s season came to a close on June 26 with a right forearm strain, but that wasn’t the origin of his injury. According to Kuhl, he had been pitching with a 30% tear in his UCL for some time, which is why he tried to rehab his way back.

If he had the surgery immediately, then there was a chance he could have pitched in September of this season. While missing the whole season will be tough for the 26 year old, he’s glad he didn’t rush the surgery.

”That clarity was huge,” Kuhl said. “...I’m glad I gave it every option.”

Kuhl says his elbow feels “completely back to normal” and will begin throwing near the start of spring training.

Jordan Lyles

Lyles may have only made a handful of appearances with Milwaukee, but his 2.49 FIP and 12.1 K/9 grabbed the attention of the Pirates, who signed him to a one year, $2 million dollar deal this December. His strong finish was sparked by seeking out advice from the Brewers’ analytics department, who gave him new insight on his pitch usage and game planning. Lyles is going to carry over those lessons to the Pirates this year.

One such change is how he should utilize his changeup.

“When I came up I was under the old school [belief] of, ‘hey, don’t show your changeup the first time through the lineup,’” Lyles said. “That’s how I grew up. So I got away from that this season once I went back into starting. It was full go from the start and it helped me a lot.”

Neal Huntington says Lyles is “Plan A” for the fifth starter job going into spring.

Daily Links

Grant Brisbee is leaving SB Nation, which sucks (until he announces his new job).

Mighty Casey struck out, and it really hurt his wRC+.

Speaking of PiratesFest, I jotted some words down about the more controversial statements from management for The Point of Pittsburgh.