Yankees manager Aaron Boone and pitcher Jameson Taillon himself thought that Monday’s outing in Kansas City wasn’t the right-hander’s best night, but it also showed the kind of mettle he has to get through the tough sledding.
As the Yankees try to catch the Boston Red Sox for an AL Wild Card spot and the Tampa Bay Rays for the division, that’s the ace-like kind of stuff the team needs — especially with the starting rotation doing just enough to tread water.
Taillon went six-plus scoreless innings in the Yankees’ zany 8-6 victory over the Kansas City Royals in the opening game of their three-game series while striking out four and walking two.
It was the seventh straight time that Taillon had allowed two or fewer runs, overcoming a bit of erraticism.
“I looked in the second or third inning and had as many balls as I did strikes,” Taillon said. “I thought I was just struggling a little bit. My stuff was good, my delivery was fine. I was just nibbling. After that, I got a little more aggressive and allowed us to get a little deeper in the game.”
It kept the Yankees in it and further proved that he’s the staff’s undisputed ace right now with Gerrit Cole battling COVID and Domingo German dealing with a shoulder strain.
Over his last 10 starts, Taillon is 6-0 with a 2.11 ERA and 54 strikeouts. During that stretch, opponents are slashing just .212/.279/.359 (.639 OPS).
“For as well as he pitched and his stuff was good, it was a little bit of a grind for him,” Boone said. “He’s such a strike-thrower, but he wasn’t throwing as many strikes as he normally does. He made some really sound adjustments in the game. Although I thought his stuff was really good and he pitched really well going into the seventh.”
For a signing that wasn’t necessarily heralded this offseason, Taillon continues to reward the Yankees’ confidence in him. He leads the pitching staff with 22 starts and has lowered his season ERA to 3.82.
Since July 1, he has the best ERA in the American League (1.25), the second-best opponent’s batting average (.181) in the AL, and the second-best WHIP (0.950) in the AL.
Just the kind of consistency the Yankees need as they look to remind Major League Baseball that they are, in fact, a force to be reckoned with.