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Jameson Taillon’s solid first outing sparks Cubs to win over Marlins

1 month agoAndy Martinez

Jameson Taillon wasn’t going to be the end-all, be-all to the Cubs’ early starting pitching woes.

But in his season debut on Friday, he showed why he’s still a massive presence in the starting rotation.

The righty tossed 5 innings of 1-run ball in his first start after suffering a back injury in Spring Training, as the Cubs beat the Marlins 8-3 in the series opener at Wrigley Field.

Taillon cruised early in his start. The righty retired the first 10 batters he faced and — aside from his 73 pitches thrown — looked like the pitcher that was one of the Cubs’ best starters down the stretch in 2023.

“I hadn’t done five ups on a rehab start or anything, so this was my first time, so just happy I could get to that point, especially with the doubleheader tomorrow,” Taillon said. “And just being efficient and then in the future, like a day like today, I would’ve put myself in a position to go even deeper, which would be great.

“Doubleheader tomorrow, I was definitely aware of like, trying to go until [manager Craig] Counsell told me I was done going.”

His lone hiccup came in the 4th inning when he allowed a solo home run to Bryan De La Cruz and then a double to Jazz Chisholm Jr. But Taillon bounced back, inducing a groundball from Josh Bell and striking out Jesús Sánchez to stymie the threat.

“I thought he was very sharp,” Counsell said. “Came out with lots of strikes, pounding the zone. It’s an aggressive team, so he just got ahead and finished at-bats very quickly and really did as much as we could have expected and what we hoped for.”

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And the Cubs’ offense did more than enough to support him.

The Cubs scored runs in each of the first three innings, forcing Marlins starter A.J. Puk into a hefty pitch count that pushed him out of the game after recording only 9 outs.

Cody Bellinger had an RBI single and Dansby Swanson notched a run-scoring double that staked the Cubs to a 2-run lead in the 1st. Nico Hoerner added an RBI double in the 2nd and Garrett Cooper, Nick Madrigal and Miguel Amaya all drove in runs in the 3rd.

Taillon’s return is a much-welcome boost to the Cubs’ starting rotation.

The Cubs have relied on 3 rookies in their rotation — plus second-year player Javier Assad. The results have been mixed — they have a 4.37 ERA from starters entering Friday but have received the second-fewest innings in baseball from starters.

While Taillon was limited in his pitch count, that should only increase as he continues to build back up. And if he pitches like he did Friday, that would be a welcome sight to the Cubs’ rotation, especially as their young pitching continues to improve and contribute at the major-league level. 

“You want to be in the big leagues, but going on a rehab assignment was kind of cool for me just to see what we have down there,” Taillon said. “Our Double-A team is super stacked. Obviously Cade Horton and there’s some other good arms but offensively, that team’s got some studs.

“Then, in Triple-A, I mean we’ve got a full bullpen there that’s big-league capable, mixed with prospects across the board. Just super impressed with the way they all go about it. The passion for the game. These are really talented kids who go about it the right away and there’s good coaches down there and stuff, so I was honestly like really fired up leaving.”

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