Chicago Cubs 2023 Season Preview: Pitcher Jameson Taillon

Division Series - Cleveland Guardians v New York Yankees - Game Two
Division Series - Cleveland Guardians v New York Yankees - Game Two / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

Although he didn't garner the hype and excitement as the Cubs' top position player signing this offseason, Dansby Swanson, right-hander Jameson Taillon marked the team's second-largest financial commitment. The former first-rounder inked a four-year, $68 million pact this winter and will be a key cog in the starting rotation not only in 2023, but for the forseeable future, as well.

So it only makes sense Taillon is the next up on our 2023 Season Preview series, which kicked off with Swanson earlier this week. There's a lot of excitement and hype surrounding a lot of the Cubs' young arms - but solid contributions and consistency from veterans like Taillon could make or break Chicago's postseason hopes this season.

2023 FanGraphs ZiPS Projections: 4.02 ERA, 4.00 FIP, 7.72 K/9, 145.2 IP, 1.9 fWAR

Baseball Reference 2023 Projections: 4.03 ERA, 1.190 WHIP, 8.10 K/9, 163 IP

Cubs fans are surely familiar with Taillon from early in his career, when he pitched for the Pirates. The former #2 overall pick spent 2016-2019 in Pittsburgh, making 82 starts, tossing 466 innings and working to a 3.55 FIP and 1.247 WHIP. The Yankees picked him up via trade in Jan. 2021 and in two years in the Bronx, the righty made 61 starts to the tune of a 4.16 FIP and 1.163 WHIP.

The pieces are there for Chicago to have a solid rotation in 2023. Justin Steele will look to build on his breakout campaign from a year ago, Marcus Stroman will, hopefully, set himself up for a nice payday in the final guaranteed year of the deal he inked prior to last season (that carries a player option for 2024) and a bevy of young arms have a chance to make their mark, as well.

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Taillon figures into all this as a quality middle-of-the-rotation presence - one capable of keeping his team in the ballgame every time out and eating innings, an ability the Cubs staff sorely lacked last year. He doesn't project as a top-tier presence, but make no mistake: Jameson Taillon could be the linchpin in the 2023 rotation nonetheless.