Taillon finds success using 4-seam fastball more, but big inning dooms Cubs in 6-2 loss to Angels

It's about time.

Actually, let's make that: It's about damn time.

That's basically how starting pitcher Jameson Taillon felt last Friday when he allowed just 1 run on 3 hits in 5⅔ innings during the Cubs' 2-1 victory at San Diego.

Taillon, who signed a four-year deal with an average salary of $17 million in December, was tired of underperforming and watching his ERA rise from 4.50 on April 15 to 6.41 on May 9 to a ghastly 8.10 on May 20.

"It was weighing on me a little bit," said Taillon, who started the Cubs' 6-2 loss to the Angels on Wednesday. "I try to show up and be the same guy and be a good teammate and root everyone on.

"But at the same time, I love everyone here and I love the staff and players, but I haven't felt like a huge part of what we're doing just cause I haven't been pulling my weight."

Taillon is coming off a 14-5 campaign with the Yankees in which he posted a 3.91 ERA. But before that gem against San Diego, he'd given up 3 or more earned runs in 6 of 7 starts and failed to throw more than 4 innings four times this season.

Taillon can throw five different pitches effectively, but it's the four-seam fastball that "is the foundation of everything I do."

Problem was, he's thrown it only 25% of the time with the Cubs - perhaps because opponents have a .273 batting average and .545 slugging percentage off that pitch.

Last season with the Yankees, Taillon threw the four-seamer 36% of the time and opponents hit .257 with a .455 slugging percentage.

The year before? He used it 50% of the time and opponents hit .199.

"(Need to) get back to who I am," Taillon said. "Attack."

He did that beautifully against the Padres, retiring 15 of the first 16 hitters. Taillon ended up allowing just 1 earned run and saw his ERA drop to 7.05.

And guess what? He used the four-seamer on 35% of his 75 pitches.

That performance didn't happen overnight, of course. A lot of hard work and "deep diving" went into figuring how to get Taillon back to being Taillon.

"A lot of soul searching," Taillon said. "When you get the results to match up, it's kind of like, 'OK. That's who I am. That's where I need to be. That's who I should be going forward.'

"And up until this point, we can talk about pitch usage all we want, but I feel like I haven't done my part. I haven't executed. So it's hard to tell catchers, 'This is me when I'm really good' when I'm not going out there and doing it."

For the most part, Taillon did it again Wednesday, giving up 5 hits - two of which were solo HRs by Mike Trout and Luis Rengifo - in 5⅓ innings. He also walked four and struck out five while throwing a season-high 104 pitches.

Taillon departed after allowing a walk and a single in the sixth inning. Reliever Mark Leiter Jr. struck out the first batter he faced, but then gave up an RBI single to Rengifo. After walking Zach Neto, Leiter yielded a bases-clearing double to Mickey Moniak.

The meltdown hurt Taillon's final numbers and kept his season ERA above 7.

"It was close to being a pretty good night, and it ended up as a pretty bad night," Taillon told reporters. "Just sour the way it ended.

"I felt good about the first 5 (innings). Then I got out there (in the sixth) and get a quick out, walk a guy on a close 3-2 pitch ... and then give up an 0-2 hit, which shouldn't happen. It just comes down to making the right pitch at the right time.

"Overall, it was good until it wasn't."

Trout was also the Angels' hero in the field, making three terrific grabs. The best came in the fourth when Trout robbed Ian Happ of a home run.

After being no-hit by Jaime Barria through four innings, the Cubs (26-35) scored a pair of runs in the fifth thanks to a single by Mike Tauchman, an RBI double by Trey Mancini and an RBI single by Miguel Amaya.

Those were the Cubs' only 3 hits of the game, however.

Around the horn:

The Cubs placed Edwin Rios on the 10-day injured list and recalled Michael Rucker from Iowa.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.