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Jameson Taillon is picking his spots, locating, and dominating

The right-hander is having a career year as he picks the right spots to use his repertoire, and locating it well.

Los Angeles Angels v New York Yankees - Game Two Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

There is a very good argument to be made that the Yankees’ starting staff has been the best crew in all of baseball this season. The group is headlined thus far by some welcome surprises — a description that fits Jameson Taillon exceptionally well. Taillon, along with the rest of his rotationmates behind Gerrit Cole, have delivered more than anyone could’ve imagined on the weight that was placed on them. The right-hander’s last three starts have seen him throw 23 dominant innings, giving up just two earned runs, walking a single batter, and striking out 17. Throughout this season and this impressive stretch, Taillon has shifted his pitch mix by locating it as well as one can, and he is finding tremendous success.

In 2022, Jameson Taillon has made some important changes to his pitch usage. Compared to 2021, the righty has dropped the use of his four-seam fastball by a pretty significant 16.2 percent going from throwing it just shy of half the time, now to around a third. He has made up for this with slight increases in the use of his slider and changeup, and fairly significant ones with his sinker and cutter.

The cutter is essentially a new addition to Taillon’s mix, as he used it for the first time quite sparingly in 2021 and is now using it a little over 14 percent of the time. This increase, and his accompanying pitches, have yielded the exact results that one would want. Compared to last season, the groundball percentage on both his cutter and changeup have jumped to 52.9 and 47.4 percent respectively, up from sub-20 percent marks on both. To go along with that, Taillon has significantly cut the hard-hit rate on these pitches as well. He’s dropped this rate by over eight percent with the changeup and cut it more than half, with the cutter down to 17.6 percent — the lowest mark for any of his pitches.

Why has this mix worked well? Much of it is likely due to how well he’s locating those secondary pitches. Taillon has very effectively kept his cutter to the glove side, his sinker to the arm side, and the changeup to arm side and down.

Keeping that sinker/cutter combination on opposite sides of the plate like Taillon has is typically a recipe for success, as each runs in contrasting directions. The changeup has been a good compliment as well, as he is pounding the lower corner on the arm side with it. Taillon has also used that pitch exclusively against left-handed batters — a situation where down and away changeups can be very effective. And the results have been there, as both his swing-and-miss rate and hard-hit rates with the pitch have seen solid improvements.

On Thursday night, Taillon carried a perfect game through seven innings, and posted the best start of his Yankee career. It also served as an excellent encapsulation of these important things he’s been able to do. He spotted those pitches in effective locations, struck out five, walked no one, and turned in an excellent performance.

Jameson Taillon has been through a lot throughout his career, and his significant improvements are great to see — not only for his own personal achievement, but as he becomes an integral part of the Yankees rotation and finds overall success. The righty is having a career year so far, and is part of one of the best starting staffs in baseball. As the Yankees continue a tremendous pitching run, Taillon has established himself as an important contributor, and is trending in the right direction on top of it.