PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Jameson Taillon’s start to the 2018 season was as good as – if not better than – expected. In his first three starts, Taillon pitched 20.1 innings with 18 strikeouts and only allowed two runs, pitching the Pirates to three consecutive wins. The second of those starts was a 5-0 complete game shutout – the first of his career – against the Cincinnati Reds on April 8.
The lone blemish on Taillon’s record came 11 days later when he was removed in the second inning after allowing five runs on four hits with a home run in a 7-0 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on April 19. That outing alone raised his earned run average from 0.89 to 2.86.
The consistency of pitching efficiently and minimizing damage was the hallmark of Taillon’s first three starts. In each of them, he pitched into the sixth inning at least and allowed four hits and three walks or less. He also threw at least 90 pitches in each of those starts, with 60 percent of his pitches for strikes. He forced ground balls against 40 percent of the batters he faced with only one home run in 75 plate appearances.
Taillon currently ranks among the National League’s best starters in several categories, including ground ball percentage (third), strikeout percentage (19th), ERA (16th), strikeouts per nine innings (21st) and home runs per nine innings (20th).
Due to Tuesday’s postponed game (rain), the Pirates will play a doubleheader Wednesday against the Detroit Tigers. The Pirates swept the Tigers in three games in the opening series of the season at Comerica Park in Detroit.
Taillon will start the first game at 4:05 p.m., and Chad Kuhl will start the second game. The Pirates lineup for the first game will be:
1. Adam Frazier, 2nd Base
2. Gregory Polanco, Right Field
3. Starling Marte, Center Field
4. Josh Bell, 1st Base
5. Corey Dickerson, Left Field
6. Francisco Cervelli, Catcher
7. Colin Moran, 3rd Base
8. Jordy Mercer, Shortstop
9. Jameson Taillon, Pitcher