Returning Chicago Cubs starting pitcher identified in devastating trend across MLB

Jameson Taillon looks like the guy that Jed Hoyer expected prior to the 2023 season, but his fastball velocities raise concerns about his short-term future.
Jim McIsaac/GettyImages
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The 2024 season has represented a polar opposite experience for Jameson Taillon than the one he had in 2023. 

Through three games this season, he is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA, nine strikeouts, and just three walks. Perhaps the most important number is the 18 innings he’s pitched because it means that he’s averaging six innings per start. 

It took Taillon until June 13th for him to earn his second win in 2023, at which point he had a 6.70 ERA.

All that to say, Jameson Taillon has been great so far this season and the Chicago Cubs should be able to count on him moving forward.

Unfortunately, a recent report from The Athletic (subscription required) looked at a handful of advanced metrics to determine which players may be disproportionately likely to injure their elbows and require Tommy John surgery, and Jameson Taillon was the only Chicago Cubs player to make the list. 

Obviously, all of that is to be taken with a grain of salt. Correlation does not equal causation, and if sports writers could determine which players may need surgery then they likely wouldn’t be sports writers and would instead be making millions in a front office somewhere.

However, the track record is a little startling. 

In 2017, the writer Micahel Salfino and Dr. Glenn Fleisig, who is the director of biomechanics research at the American Sports Medicine Institute, looked at pitchers that had as small of a difference as possible between their maximum and average fastball velocities.

The players they determined to be at risk were:

  • Steven Matz
  • Noah Syndergaard
  • Michael Fulmer
  • Jameson Taillon
  • Stephen Strasburg

All of the players listed above subsequently required surgery on their elbows. 

Jameson Taillon is in the danger zone again

There are 14 starting pitchers this season that fall into the danger zone based on the predictive data they used that season and Jameson Taillon is again present on the list. 

The Cubs have proven this season that they can withstand injuries as they have lost Justin Steele, Kyle Hendricks, Jordan Wicks and even Taillon for portions of the 2024 season already and that’s just from the rotation. They have great young options, a solid trade target, and a recently promoted prospect just one step from the big leagues.

However, Taillon is a player the Cubs clearly believe in based on the contract they gave him prior to the 2023 season, so hopefully he can keep his surgically repaired elbow healthy and continue to dominate throughout the rest of this year.

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