The Pirates have prized rookie right-hander Jameson Taillon on the 15-day DL due to fatigue in his throwing shoulder. Southpaw Steven Brault will start tomorrow’s game against the Cardinals in Taillon’s place, and another move will need to be made to create space for Brault on the 40-man roster.
[Related: updated Pirates depth chart at Roster Resource]
Taillon missed all of the 2014 and 2015 seasons recovering from both Tommy John surgery and a hernia operation, and he returned to dominate over 61 2/3 IP at Triple-A. That dominance (as well as some injuries to the Pirates’ rotation) led to two separate callups this season, and Taillon acquitted himself pretty well in his first taste of big league action. The 24-year-old righty had a 3.86 ERA, 6.8 K/9 and 4.20 K/BB rate over 28 innings with the Pirates, and he looked in good form during his last start on June 29, holding Seattle to one run on six hits over six innings.
The Pirates were naturally going to be careful with Taillon’s innings given his long injury layoff and the fact that he’d never thrown more than 147 1/3 frames in any one pro season. This could very well be a precautionary DL stint based on Taillon showing the first hint of an issue, though obviously any type of shoulder-related DL stint is troubling given Taillon’s importance to Pittsburgh’s rotation plans in both the long and short term.
The Bucs’ pitching staff has been plagued by injuries (Taillon joins Gerrit Cole and Ryan Vogelsong on the DL) and underperformance from Francisco Liriano, Jeff Locke and Jon Niese. Chad Kuhl has already gotten the call from Triple-A to bolster the rotation, and one has to wonder if the Pirates will promote another top prospect by bringing Tyler Glasnow to the bigs. Glasnow has a 1.78 ERA and 10.6 K/9 over 96 Triple-A innings this season, though he has also posted a troubling 4.9 BB/9.
Brault was rated as the 15th-best minor leaguer in Pittsburgh’s system by the 2016 Baseball America Prospect Handbook. He was credited with having excellent command and an ability to limit homers and induce grounders, which helps counter an “ordinary” changeup and curve, and a fastball in the 89-91 mph range. Brault has a 3.34 ERA, 11.3 K/9 and 2.93 K/BB rate over 35 Triple-A innings this season.