A flexor strain in Pirates starter Jameson Taillon’s pitching elbow has kept the right-hander off a major league mound since May 1. Almost two months later, Taillon’s not recovering as hoped, Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic explains (subscription required). Surgery could emerge as a possibility for Taillon if he doesn’t begin progressing, Biertempfel notes.
Taillon first started feeling symptoms of his flexor strain in spring training, well before he landed on the injured list. He still hasn’t resumed throwing since going on the IL, though the Pirates are hopeful that will change in 10 to 14 days, director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk told Biertempfel. However, Tomcyzk admitted “we might have to go in another direction” – possibly surgery – with Taillon if he shows ill effects after he returns to throwing. Regardless, it doesn’t appear he’s close to a return to the majors.
An elbow procedure would be the second for Taillon, who underwent Tommy John surgery as a prized prospect in 2014. Now, given the 27-year-old’s importance to the Bucs, another TJ procedure would be an enormous blow to Taillon and the team. Taillon entered 2019 off his best season in the majors, in which he threw 191 innings of 3.20 ERA/3.46 FIP ball with 8.43 K/9 and 2.17 BB/9, and performed well again this year before going on the IL. Even though he wasn’t at full strength, Taillon managed 37 1/3 frames of 4.10 ERA/3.76 FIP pitching with 7.23 K/9, 1.93 BB/9 and a 49.6 percent groundball rate.
Injuries to Taillon and other starters help explain the Pirates’ 33-40 record, which is the third-worst mark in the National League. The club just got back Trevor Williams, but he missed a little over a month with a side strain. Meanwhile, Jordan Lyles has been on the IL since June 10. Of starters who opened the season in Pittsburgh’s rotation, Taillon, Williams and Lyles have been its top performers so far. On the other hand, Joe Musgrove and Chris Archer haven’t prevented runs at palatable rates.