Overshadowed in the Cubs' rotation, Jameson Taillon has bounced back in a big way

The right-hander has put a rocky first season in Chicago behind him, delivering stability and consistency so far in 2024.
St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs
St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

It was more of the same for an anemic Chicago Cubs offense Sunday. Craig Counsell's club continued to struggle with runners in scoring position, going 2-for-10 in a 2-1 loss to the Cardinals.

Frustrations continue to mount in Wrigleyville, as the Cubs enter Monday 8 1/2 back of the Brewers, in last place in a lackluster National League Central. The only real positive for the team is the starting rotation, which ranks near the top of the league in ERA this season. A big part of its success is veteran right-hander Jameson Taillon.

Taillon delivered again on Sunday, allowing just two runs over six innings of work. Those tallies came via a two-run shot off the bat of backup rookie catcher Pedro Pagés, but it was the offense that cost the Cubs a chance at a series victory, not that long ball, as frustrating as it was.

“Whether it’s winning 1-0 games or winning slugfests, we got to find a way to win games,” Taillon said after the game. “We can talk about it all we want. We can try to assess it and figure it out. But at some point, you just got to put wins in the win column.”

Jameson Taillon has gone from disaster to a reliable presence

Looking back to this point last year, Taillon was viewed as a major free-agent bust. On June 18, 2023, the former first-rounder carried a 6.71 ERA in 12 starts and the Cubs were just 2-10 in those contests. Thankfully, he turned things around in a big way down the stretch, posting a 3.70 ERA in 14 starts and a relief appearance in the second half - and appears to have carried that momentum into 2024.

After his latest outing, Taillon has a 3.08 ERA in 11 starts - and he's found success despite a career-low strikeout rate. Heading into this year, he's averaged 8.1 K/9, but this season, he's punched out just 6.3 batters per nine. His Baseball Savant page doesn't suggest anything dominant, with below-average marks for ground ball, strikeout and whiff rates. But he's limited the hard contact and free passes, leading to his success.

While the offense continues to search for answers, the rotation continues to give this team a chance to salvage a disastrous start to the season. Shota Imanaga and Javier Assad have garnered much praise, and rightfully so. But don't sleep on Taillon's bounceback campaign and what it has meant to this Cubs team in his second year on the North Side.