Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

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 Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

What We're Reading in April

Books Editor Kristofer Collins reviews "Unlucky 21: The Saddest Stories and Games in Pittsburgh Sports History," Wicked Pittsburgh" and Alternate Histories' "Pittsburgh in Olden Times."

April 2019: Best of Culture in Pittsburgh

Check out some of the finest plays, dance performances and exhibits taking place this month in Pittsburgh.

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

Your 10 best bets for this month include The Book of Mormon, Pop Punk Night and a Taste of Lawrenceville.

Can't Miss Concerts in Pittsburgh in April

An icon comes to town, and we celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month in style.

Swap Meet: Graham 2 Joins Bodiography in Horizons

‘Horizons’ presents a combination of original works and those of Pittsburgh native Martha Graham.

Perspectives: For Dad

A daughter struggles to accept the limitations of her ailing father.

Something Old is Something New (to You) At the Vintage Home Mixer

Taking place in Lawrenceville, the event features vintage furniture, fashion, textiles and other home goods all under one roof.

Watch: Sid and Geno Break out the Big Guns

Think Sid is good in the shootout? Watch him with a T-Shirt cannon.

Local Filmmakers and Global Issues in Row House Outdoors Week

Documentary films highlighting environmental struggles get the spotlight at the Lawrenceville theater.

The 400-Word Review: The Dirt

Netflix's Mötley Crüe biopic offers plenty of rock-star mayhem, but no insight or substance.

An Impressive Duck Lands at Spork in Bloomfield

Executive chef Chris Frangiadis introduces a tableside classic to the restaurant's menu.

Summer Camp Helps Children Deal with Loss

Now accepting applications, Experience Camp welcomes children who have lost immediate family members.

PM on KD: Spirit Is in Our After Dark Hall of Fame

PM nightlife and culture editor Sean Collier appeared on KDKA's Pittsburgh Today Live to discuss the latest inductee into Pittsburgh Magazine's After Dark Hall of Fame: Spirit.

Duke’s Williamson Transcends the Madness

Freshman Zion Williamson makes this year’s NCAA Tournament, always fascinating on its own merits, even more of a can’t-miss event.

A New Steel Curtain Is Rising

Will the new Steelers zone at Kennywood Park be ready in time for opening day?
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Watch: Sid and Geno Break out the Big Guns

Watch: Sid and Geno Break out the Big Guns

Think Sid is good in the shootout? Watch him with a T-Shirt cannon.

Comments

Local Filmmakers and Global Issues in Row House Outdoors Week

Local Filmmakers and Global Issues in Row House Outdoors Week

Documentary films highlighting environmental struggles get the spotlight at the Lawrenceville theater.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
An Impressive Duck Lands at Spork in Bloomfield

An Impressive Duck Lands at Spork in Bloomfield

Executive chef Chris Frangiadis introduces a tableside classic to the restaurant's menu.

Comments

Refucilo Winery Brings a Taste of Argentina to the North Side

Refucilo Winery Brings a Taste of Argentina to the North Side

Dr. Juan Antonio Lora's passion project is linked to youthful memories.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The 5 Best Seats at PPG Paints Arena

The 5 Best Seats at PPG Paints Arena

From ultra-premium experiences to bargains with great views, here are five perfect places to watch the Pens.

Comments

Fitness: Five Great Trails to Run in the Fall in Pittsburgh

Fitness: Five Great Trails to Run in the Fall in Pittsburgh

Don’t resign yourself to the gym treadmills just yet – fall is one of the best times of the year to get outside and pound the pavement, surrounded by falling leaves and the possibility of grabbing a hot latte on the way home.

Comments


After Dark Hall of Fame: Spirit

After Dark Hall of Fame: Spirit

The lauded Lawrenceville hotspot is the latest inductee in the After Dark Hall of Fame.

Comments

It's 2019. We Need a Modern, Dine-In Cinema

It's 2019. We Need a Modern, Dine-In Cinema

Pittsburgh is long overdue for a new movie palace where you can get an actual meal brought to your seat.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Duke’s Williamson Transcends the Madness

Duke’s Williamson Transcends the Madness

Freshman Zion Williamson makes this year’s NCAA Tournament, always fascinating on its own merits, even more of a can’t-miss event.

Comments

Brown and Bell are Gone – What the Steelers Need to do Next

Brown and Bell are Gone – What the Steelers Need to do Next

Whether the Steelers are better or worse off, whether they’re culpable or deserve to be applauded for finally resolving two of their biggest problems remains to be seen.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: The Dirt

The 400-Word Review: The Dirt

Netflix's Mötley Crüe biopic offers plenty of rock-star mayhem, but no insight or substance.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: Us

The 400-Word Review: Us

Jordan Peele's new film is terrifying, essential viewing.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Why These Pittsburgh Brides Said Yes to the … Jumpsuit?

Why These Pittsburgh Brides Said Yes to the … Jumpsuit?

Comfort, mobility and style were all considerations for these brides’ perfect wedding wardrobe.

Comments

The Big Fake Wedding Offers Everything But the “I Dos”

The Big Fake Wedding Offers Everything But the “I Dos”

This nontraditional wedding showcase gives couples real-world insight into planning their big day.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Something Old is Something New (to You) At the Vintage Home Mixer

Something Old is Something New (to You) At the Vintage Home Mixer

Taking place in Lawrenceville, the event features vintage furniture, fashion, textiles and other home goods all under one roof.

Comments

On Trend: Add a Touch of Velvet to Your Decor

On Trend: Add a Touch of Velvet to Your Decor

Local designers say the fabric can give a room a luxurious feel. Here’s how to incorporate it into your home.

Comments