For Pirates' Jameson Taillon: Pressure is a Privilege

As Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon enters his first full season with the big leagues, the weight of anticipation has given way to a need to deliver.




photos courtesy of the Pittsburgh Pirates

 

With the Florida sun beaming down on the fields of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ spring-training complex in Bradenton, Fla., pitcher Jameson Taillon sits on a bench outside the clubhouse having yet another conversation about expectations for the upcoming season.

He’s been here before — literally and figuratively.

2016 was Taillon’s first “healthy” season in nearly two years, after being sidelined in 2015 with a sports hernia and in 2014 with elbow damage (which required Tommy John surgery).

As the 2017 season dawns, Taillon, 25, reflects on the differences between last year — when he wasn’t yet expected to be a difference-maker in the major leagues — and this year, when the Pirates are relying on him to perform.
 

“There were a lot of uncertainties,” he says of entering spring training last year. “I was confident ... but I hadn’t pitched against someone in a different-colored jersey in two years. So, I was just as curious as everyone else — how am I gonna pitch? Am I still going to be good?”

Before the injuries, Taillon wasn’t merely good. The second overall pick in the 2010 entry draft was so good that the Pirates plucked him away from Rice University, where Taillon already had signed a letter of intent, with a $6.5 million signing bonus — the sixth-highest ever, according to Baseball America. 

As it turned out, yes, Taillon was still good in 2016.  

​Taillon started the season with the Pirates’ AAA club in Indianapolis, where he went 4-2 in 10 starts with a 2.04 ERA. He received his first major league call-up June 8 against the New York Mets; it was a spot start, but an injury to Gerrit Cole midway through the month led to Taillon’s return to Pittsburgh and addition to the rotation.

He remained there for the duration of the season.

He made a decent showing with the Pirates for a rookie, going 5-4 in 18 starts with a 3.38 ERA. But he fell short of being the savior for which die-hard fans were hoping. With starting pitching still providing the biggest questions for the Bucs — who had a disappointing 2016 campaign — there is no shortage of pressure on the guy nicknamed “Jamo” to put up better numbers this year.

As the 2017 season begins, however, the doubts and uncertainties in his own head have been silenced. Taillon says he is excited to shed labels such as “prospect” and “injured player looking for redemption” for the chance to write a new storyline for himself as a major-league starter.

“I’ve come to spring training in the past being the guy who wants to prove I’m worthy of being in major-league camp,” says the Florida-born, Texas-raised right-hander. “This year all that’s out the door and I get to prove that I’m a major league starter. I get to prove that what I did last year wasn’t a fluke ... It feels good. I’m excited to go to work with these guys.”

​Taillon enters the 2017 season as one of few players “set in stone” on the Pirates’ roster. It’s quite a burden on a guy entering his first full year as a major leaguer — but that’s nothing new.

“I’ve had pressure on me, high expectations, pretty much my whole life, so I’m pretty used to it,” says the 6’5”, self-described “big goal-setter.” “I think people are going to expect more out of me. But as far as I go, I’m a pretty chill guy. I’m just going to do my own thing, keep my head down and knock out starts.”
 

That’s exactly what Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle wants.

“It’s all about leading when it’s time to lead,” he says. Hurdle, who bristles when asked about his expectations of his players, explains that with Taillon, he’s more concerned with “how he’s going to approach his four days without the ball” than the numbers he puts up when he pitches.

To that end, Taillon’s routine between starts is front-loaded with physical activity — lifting, running, stretching and throwing. It ends on a cerebral note — shifting into “compete mode,” studying scouting reports and applying his game plan for the next start.  

“He’s not a rah-rah guy — he’s a doer,” Hurdle says. “He listens so well, he’s an intense competitor ... there’s a lot of good fabric to work with.”

​Taillon credits his father with instilling that work ethic, which has seen him through some difficult times.

“I don’t talk much, I’m not cocky, I’m not announcing to the world what I’m going to do — I just stay quiet and do it,” he says.

It’s the kind of attitude that will serve him well as he finally gets his chance to step onto an MLB mound and deliver for his team — ideally, from April through October.  
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Best of the 'Burgh 2017

Best of the 'Burgh 2017

Host an event in Pittsburgh’s urban sustainable homestead. Join a club for mushroom hunters. Tour a coal mine. Listen to some banjo music. We list our new favorite experiences, food, drink, personalities, stores, items and activities in the ’Burgh.
Daytripping: The ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’

Daytripping: The ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’

Fourteen years ago this month, the mighty Kinzua Viaduct met its match.
Restaurant Review: The Café Carnegie

Restaurant Review: The Café Carnegie

The restaurant, run by Dinette’s Sonja J. Finn, boosts the dining experience at the Carnegie museums in Oakland.
Thrive: Smooth Moves While Getting Lost in the Music

Thrive: Smooth Moves While Getting Lost in the Music

FASTER Pittsburghʼs Hip Hop Cardio promises to get your workout into a groove.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Marc-André Fleury Pens Loving Farewell Letter to Pittsburgh

Marc-André Fleury Pens Loving Farewell Letter to Pittsburgh

In a letter for The Players' Tribune, Fleury recounts his 14-year career as a Pittsburgh Penguin and the bittersweet weeks leading up to his departure to Las Vegas.
Pittsburgh-Area Fireworks 2017: When & Where to Watch Them

Pittsburgh-Area Fireworks 2017: When & Where to Watch Them

You can get your fill of fireworks throughout the long holiday weekend, if you know where and when to look.
See The Tiny House with Room to Grow

See The Tiny House with Room to Grow

The housing company Module, a Pittsburgh start-up, creates an alternative housing model that grows in size as you grow in income.
Watch: Pittsburgh Penguins Video Tribute to Marc-André Fleury

Watch: Pittsburgh Penguins Video Tribute to Marc-André Fleury

With a tear in our eye, we bid the “Flower” Au Revoir.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Best of the 'Burgh 2017

Best of the 'Burgh 2017

Host an event in Pittsburgh’s urban sustainable homestead. Join a club for mushroom hunters. Tour a coal mine. Listen to some banjo music. We list our new favorite experiences, food, drink, personalities, stores, items and activities in the ’Burgh.
Daytripping: The ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’

Daytripping: The ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’

Fourteen years ago this month, the mighty Kinzua Viaduct met its match.
Restaurant Review: The Café Carnegie

Restaurant Review: The Café Carnegie

The restaurant, run by Dinette’s Sonja J. Finn, boosts the dining experience at the Carnegie museums in Oakland.
Thrive: Smooth Moves While Getting Lost in the Music

Thrive: Smooth Moves While Getting Lost in the Music

FASTER Pittsburghʼs Hip Hop Cardio promises to get your workout into a groove.
Curling in Pittsburgh: ‘It's Basically Golf and Chess on Ice’

Curling in Pittsburgh: ‘It's Basically Golf and Chess on Ice’

On the eve of its largest annual event, the Pittsburgh Curling Club has plans to increase Pittsburgh’s appreciation for its intricate sport.
Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in June

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in June

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Marc-André Fleury Pens Loving Farewell Letter to Pittsburgh

Marc-André Fleury Pens Loving Farewell Letter to Pittsburgh

In a letter for The Players' Tribune, Fleury recounts his 14-year career as a Pittsburgh Penguin and the bittersweet weeks leading up to his departure to Las Vegas.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Pusadee's Garden Will Close at End of Year (But Not Forever)

Pusadee's Garden Will Close at End of Year (But Not Forever)

Look for some big changes at the Upper Lawrenceville restaurant, which is expected to shutter for at least a year.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Best Places for Kids on Rainy Days in Pittsburgh

Best Places for Kids on Rainy Days in Pittsburgh

Read on for some under-the-radar ideas on how you and the kids can survive a rainy day this summer.

Comments


High-Wire Acts at Carnegie Science Center

High-Wire Acts at Carnegie Science Center

The North Shore landmark's new ropes course is a draw for adults and youths alike.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Pittsburgh Pirates Looking for Relief from Their Bullpen

Pittsburgh Pirates Looking for Relief from Their Bullpen

The just-completed, pivotal 10-game stretch began and ended the same way for the Pittsburgh Pirates –– with no one having an answer for the faltering bullpen.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Make the Cut with Jonathan Moran Woodworks

Make the Cut with Jonathan Moran Woodworks

The Strip District-based woodworker's cutting boards can be custom made with the wood of your choice.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Buckle Up ... Again, as Cars 3 Hits Theaters

Buckle Up ... Again, as Cars 3 Hits Theaters

Reviews of "Cars 3" and "47 Meters Down," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Brewing Up Romance: A Couple Comes Together over Beer

Brewing Up Romance: A Couple Comes Together over Beer

See how this couple used their love of beer and breweries to create their special moments.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Blooming: Pittsburgh Botanic Garden Hosts Town & Country Tour

Blooming: Pittsburgh Botanic Garden Hosts Town & Country Tour

From a forest of Japanese maples to a rocky urban sanctuary, the annual tour covers 14 very different gardens across the East End.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Visit Thiel College for a Summer BBQ

Visit Thiel College for a Summer BBQ

On three days this summer, the college will host visit days for prospective students.

Comments

Edit Module