Fresh off a sweep of the Red Sox at Fenway Park that extended their winning streak to six games, the Wild-Card leading Yankees are enjoying their final off-day of the regular season today. There were still some behind-the-scenes logistics to work out ahead of the upcoming series against the Blue Jays though, and they took care of that shortly after noon on Monday.
Jameson Taillon is activated and now back with the Yankees. The 29-year-old right-hander has been on the injured list since September 9th with a partial tear of a tendon in his right ankle. Apparently, the injury sounded a lot worse than it actually was because Taillon was able to recover in time to make a rehab start at Triple-A Scranton on September 22nd, and now, he’s set to take the mound for the opener of the key three-game set in Toronto. To make room on the roster, reliever Albert Abreu was optioned to Triple-A; the availability of superior relievers had diminished his playing time and he also pitched poorly during his last time out against Cleveland on September 18th.
Taillon’s season has been a classic bell curve distribution, as it took him awhile to get going in the first couple months, but he really hit his stride around midseason. He was the AL Pitcher of the Month in July and essentially the de facto ace for a couple weeks in early August while Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery recovered from bouts with COVID-19. Taillon’s last four starts in August were pretty poor though, as he seemed to be running out of gas, though he rebounded with seven innings of three-run ball on September 6th against this same Blue Jays team before hitting the IL.
On the year, Taillon has a 4.41 ERA, 4.49 FIP, and 1.8 fWAR in 27 starts (138.2 innings).
The Yankees’ likely rotation for the remainder of the season now seems to be all but set:
9/28 vs. Toronto: Jameson Taillon
9/29 vs. Toronto: Gerrit Cole
9/30 vs. Toronto: Corey Kluber
10/1 vs. Tampa Bay: Néstor Cortes Jr.
10/2 vs. Tampa Bay: Jordan Montgomery
10/3 vs. Tampa Bay: Jameson Taillon/Gerrit Cole
The only question seems to be Game 162, the regular-season finale. If Taillon looks fine, then he could face the Rays on normal rest. However, if Game 162 turns into a win-or-go-home scenario, then the Yankees are going to be understandably tempted to use his buddy Cole on three days’ rest, much as they did last year in the decisive Game 5 of the ALDS (also against Tampa). It might cost them having Cole available to them in a tiebreaker or the AL Wild Card Game, but, well, they have to get there first and even if Taillon shoves tomorrow night, I still trust Cole more.
Fingers crossed that the best-case scenario comes to pass and the Yankees find a way to clinch a playoff spot before Sunday. It’ll be a tough road against the Blue Jays and Rays, but as this team has proved, when the players are hot, they can beat anyone.