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The story of Jameson Taillon’s debut season with Cubs

9 months agoTony Andracki

Five months into Jameson Taillon’s Cubs career, he caries a 7-9 record and 5.62 ERA.

This isn’t how he or the Cubs expected things would go after agreeing on a 4-year, $68 million free agent contract in the offseason.

The Cubs were investing in a pitcher who was a former No. 2 overall pick and had a career 3.84 ERA entering 2023 that included success pitching in big moments with the Yankees.

Monday night against the Brewers was a microcosm of how Taillon’s debut season on the North Side of Chicago has played out.

He tossed 6 innings, struck out 6 batters, didn’t walk anybody and did not allow an earned run in the last 5 innings he pitched. But in that 1st inning, he was tagged for 4 runs and that was enough to sink the outing and the Cubs.

Taillon ran into trouble immediately as Christian Yelich sent the 3rd pitch of the game into the left field bleachers.

After a strikeout, Taillon gave up back-to-back singles and both runners moved up a base on a Dansby Swanson error. The Cubs right-hander then surrendered a deep fly ball that went for an RBI sacrifice fly before Mark Canha took him deep.

Just like that, the Brewers were up 4-0 in the top of the 1st inning in a pivotal series that will weigh heavily in deciding the National League Central crown.

Taillon allowed another run in the 2nd inning, but it was unearned as Yelich reached on an infield single, advanced to second on Nico Hoerner’s throwing error and then scored on a 2-out base hit.

Taillon settled in from there and actually gave the Cubs length but the damage had been done in a 6-2 loss.

“It’s definitely been one of those years for me where the results aren’t matching up to some of the work I’m putting in, but that’s the game that I signed up to play,” Taillon said. “It kinda is what it is.

“We still have a good month of baseball in front of us and I have an opportunity to compete and pitch well and put us in a position to win. I definitely feel like that’s been the story of my year but also, we are where we are and I have just 5 or 6 starts left to keep us in games and hopefully help us push into a playoff spot.”

Taillon has said all season that he feels like he’s on the cusp of putting together really good starts. Take last Wednesday in Detroit, for example. He took a no-hitter into the 6th inning but the wheels fell off and he ultimately gave up a game-tying grand slam with 2 outs in that 6th inning.

Or Monday night, where he retired 13 of the final 16 batters he faced but it was the opening frame that gave him trouble.

In hindsight, Taillon felt he was actually a little too amped up coming out of the gate and believed that contributed to the tough 1st inning.

“I felt like super strong today,” he said. “I felt like the delivery was good and the stuff was good. I think it was a mix of feeling good, feeding off the situation. We’re all aware of where we’re at in the standings, where Milwaukee is at in the standings so I think it’s probably just a little bit of everything.”

Taillon looked to be turning a corner in July and August with a 2.17 ERA during a 6-start stretch. But he has struggled his last 4 outings (0-3, 7.84 ERA) at a time when the Cubs need him the most.

With Marcus Stroman on the IL and Drew Smyly demoted to the bullpen, the Cubs have had to turn to a pair of inexperienced young arms (Javier Assad, Jordan Wicks) in the rotation down the stretch.

As the playoff race continues to heat up, the Cubs need Taillon to step up and pitch like he’s capable of down the stretch.

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