6:52PM: The belief is that Taillon will need some type of surgery, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets. Flexor damage is the better-case scenario, rather than elbow surgery, as a flexor procedure wouldn’t likely keep Taillon from being ready for the start of the 2020 season.
10:03AM: The Pirates’ hopes for a competitive 2019 season are looking rockier than ever as key players Jameson Taillon and Gregory Polanco struggle to turn the corner. Both are facing increasingly worrisome injury situations, as they discussed this morning with reporters including Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link) and The Athletic’s Rob Biertempfel (links to Twitter).
Taillon’s situation appears to be the one with the most at stake. We heard some ominous news yesterday as his rehab was halted. The additional word out of the Bucs’ locker room doesn’t provide much in the way of comfort.
The team still doesn’t know the outcome of his arm issues, but will learn more soon. Taillon will visit with orthopedist Dr. David Altchek on Monday. The righty says he’s “hoping it’s just the forearm” rather than an elbow problem that could require major surgery.
Taillon, who has previously undergone a Tommy John procedure, indicates that he’s “excited for whatever comes next” even if it means a lengthy rehab process. He says that he has “been stuck in a grey area for a while.” Though the team has long signaled that Taillon was expected to return this season, it seems there may have been greater internal pessimism throughout.
Any kind of significant arm procedure would be a worry for the Bucs. Taillon is one of the organization’s top players and best assets, at least assuming full health. But it seems he’s all but certainly done for the year; as he puts it, “this season is probably a wash for me.” Taillon only made seven starts this year after a superlative 2018 season, which means he’ll enter arbitration in the offseason with a weak platform that will limit his earnings.
As for Polanco, there’s also some longer-fuse worry. He says he pushed too hard to make it back from last year’s shoulder procedure, leading to the problems that have forced him to the shelf after a return. Now, he’s going to take some more time to rest after having his rehab assignment halted a week ago. Whether Polanco can make it back to the majors this year isn’t yet known, but certainly can’t be presumed.
Having already gone through an unsuccessful effort to ramp up relatively quickly and play at less than full health, Polanco says he’s now committed to fully healing. “This time, I want to be 100 percent,” he says. With the club owing him $23MM in future salary, including two guaranteed seasons and buyouts on a pair of options, a long-term outlook makes sense for all sides.
Needless to say, with the Bucs already reeling in the standings, they increasingly appear to be situated as a seller at the coming deadline. There’s not much of an argument to be made that the roster, especially sans Taillon and Polanco, can contend in the present campaign. The question the front office needs to consider most closely is whether it has the pieces needed to bounce back in 2020.