Chicago Cubs Spring Training: Jameson Taillon working on slider

Aug 25, 2022; Oakland, California, USA;  New York Yankees starting pitcher Jameson Taillon (50)
Aug 25, 2022; Oakland, California, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Jameson Taillon (50) / Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

When new Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jameson Taillon was introduced by the team earlier this offseason, the veteran starter spoke glowingly about his meeting with Cubs director of pitching Craig Breslow. A 30-minute scheduled meeting turned into a 2-hour conversation where Taillon and Breslow talked all things pitching.

Taillon is confident that he can reach another level in regard to his performance on the mound and there is no doubt that the Cubs' pitching infrastructure will allow him to reach his goals. While speaking with reporters at Cubs' Spring Training this week, Taillon revealed that he is working on a new slider grip.

"“Obviously you want the horizontal break to be significant, and that’s the reason you’re adding it,” Taillon said. “But also I can see it with my eyes ... I can feel it when a good one comes out. I can feel when I’m in the right release spot. So I’m encouraged by both the eye tests and how it feels and then the numbers and metrics behind it. “I know what I want it to look like and feel like, so now it’s chasing that and nailing it down.”"

Jameson Taillon via Chicago Tribune.

Taillon threw his slider 19% of the time in 177 innings pitched with the New York Yankees last season. Taillon did have success with his slider last season as opposing hitters slashed .227/..240/.433 against the pitch to go along with 6 home runs.

As for the purpose of the new slider grip, the Cubs believe it can generate more strikeouts for Taillon when facing right-handed hitters.

"With his adjusted slider grip, Taillon’s right index and middle fingers sit on the baseball’s seams, creating a V shape, and focus on staying on top of the ball to create the sweeping movement he wants. The Cubs believe Taillon is capable of tapping in to more strikeouts against right-handed hitters, building on his track record of stellar command and low walk rate. A revamped sweeping slider could be the wipeout weapon Taillon needs."

Meghan Montemurro via Chicago Tribune

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If there is one thing that the Cubs' starting rotation lacks, it is a pitcher that can generate strikeouts at a high capacity. The Cubs' rotation is built around the idea of creating weak contact and that is why the defense of Dansby Swanson at shortstop and Nico Hoerner at second base will be an important factor in the team's success this season. If Taillon's sweeping slider can be a pitch that generates more strikeouts in 2023, that will be a valuable asset to the team moving forward.