Jameson Taillon’s arm hasn‘t felt right since spring training. Now he knows why.
The right-hander was placed on the 10-day injured list Wednesday with a strained elbow flexor tendon. He will not throw for a month and is also expected to be examined early next week by Mets team orthopedist David Altchek, who performed Taillon's Tommy John surgery in 2014.
Taillon, who is 2-3 with a 4.10 and 1.12 WHIP in seven starts, pitched Wednesday against the Rangers at Arlington, Texas, and showed no signs of injury, allowing four runs (three earned) in 6 1/3 innings as he got the win. However, Taillon said he felt more tightness than normal toward the end of the start and that the injury had been building over time.
“I wasn't really sure what's kind of wear-and-tear and what's a problem,” Taillon said before the Pirates played the Athletics on Saturday night at PNC Park. “So I was just pitching with it and managing it, and then it hit a point where I realized this was probably something different.”
Taillon elaborated on his situation:
The Pirates are now missing two members of the rotation as Chris Archer is on the IL with an inflamed right thumb. Clint Hurdle has been using four starters, taking advantage of the Pirates having three off-days in an eight-day stretch that ends Monday.
Hurdle said the Pirates would likely have an announcement about the rotation after the game. Jordan Lyles is scheduled to pitch Sunday against the Athletics in the finale of the three-game series, but the Pirates have not listed probable starters for the two-game series against the Rangers that begins Tuesday night at PNC Park.
The most viable option at Indianapolis is right-hander Mitch Keller. Considered one of the top prospects in baseball, the 23-year-old is 3-0 with a 3.48 ERA and 1.54 WHIP in six starts.
Hurdle would also not rule out the idea of using an opener, someone who would pitch an inning or two before yielding to a more traditional starter.
Though it is not going to be for a while, Hurdle believes Taillon will do everything to get back as quickly as possible, saying, “I’d bet on him.”
“He’s got a history of working through adversity,” Hurdle said. “We’ve had conversations. He’s gone through it emotionally, thinking through it. The reality now is where we are today, where do we go moving forward, what value could he provide?
“It’s kind of like your starting quarterback is hurt and you want him to stay engaged with the team. He’ll still be in the pre-game game-planning, be involved in the bullpen sessions. He’s a big part of that clubhouse. He’s going to do everything he can to help us compete. That’s his new normal right now. We chatted it up and he’s steadfast that he is going to meet the challenges ahead of him so he can get to where he wants to get to.”
• The Pirates made a series of other roster moves Saturday:
Kevin Newman was activated from the 10-day IL, Dovydas Neverauskas was recalled from Indianapolis, Pablo Reyes was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis, left-handed reliever Tyler Lyons' contract was purchased from Indianapolis and JB Shuck was designated for assignment from Indianapolis, though they must first clear a spot on the 40-man roster.
Newman, who had a lacerated right ring finger, was on a rehab assignment with Indianapolis, hitting .233 (7-for-30) with two doubles and an RBI in eight games.
Newman made two starts at shortstop and two each in left field and center field. Those were the first four outfield appearances in Newman’s professional career.
“It was fun,” Newman said of playing the outfield. “I had fun going out there, chasing some fly balls and running a little farther than I’m used to running.”
Hurdle said he would not hesitate to use Newman in the outfield.
Neverauskas had two saves and a 1.90 in a combined nine games with Indianapolis and high-A Bradenton, striking out 15 on 10 innings. Lyons was 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA in 10 relief appearances. striking out 12 strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.
The 31-year-old Lyons had a combined 3.09 ERA in 80 appearances for the Cardinals during the 2016-17. That ERA ballooned to 8.64 in 27 games during an injury-plagued 2018.
However, Lyons says he feels back to his form of two years ago, both physically and from a pitching standpoint.
The move with Taillon, the opening day starter, comes out of the blue — there was no indication he was hurt – and is obviously a big blow to a team that has had 17 different players go on the IL this season.
It will be interesting to see how the Pirates fill his spot. Keller is the only starter at Indianapolis who has pitched particularly well, but he looked overmatched when pitching in exhibition games during spring training. Maybe we’ll see the first-ever opener in franchise history.
Lyons will give the Pirates veteran bullpen depth. It also helps that he can pitch multiple innings, especially given the shape of the banged-up rotation. Same goes for Neverauskas being able to pitch up to two innings an appearance.
I still insist that Reyes is the most lovable man in baseball. However, he would be more lovable if the rookie wasn’t hitting .128/.190/.128 in 23 games.
Shuck is a pro's pro but the emergence of Bryan Reynolds helped knock him off the roster. Here's hoping he lands with another major-league team.
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