For the first time this season, a Yankees starter not named Gerrit Cole or Jordan Montgomery made it through five innings Tuesday night.
Jameson Taillon took a step toward stabilizing the rest of the rotation when he turned in his best start of the young season in the Yankees’ 3-1 win over the Braves at Yankee Stadium, snapping a five-game losing streak.
“I want to be the guy that’s going to help us get back in the win column,” Taillon said after going five innings and giving up just one run. “So going out there, I kind of had that attitude of, ‘I want to do everything I can to put us in a spot to win tonight.’ But that almost fueled me as opposed to putting me in a corner and making me feel like I needed to be too fine. That put a little fire under me to go out there with some energy tonight.”
Making his third start of the season, after missing last year rehabbing a second Tommy John surgery, Taillon gave up four hits and one walk while striking out five on 80 pitches. Aaron Boone said he could have extended him more, but with Freddie Freeman set to lead off the sixth inning and the Yankees bullpen fresh after an off day, the manager said, “It was time.”
Still, it was an encouraging start for Taillon after getting tagged for five runs and eight hits in 3 ²/₃ innings his previous time out against the Blue Jays.
“What I was most excited about was the stuff I worked on in between the outings showed up today,” Taillon said. “I thought we had a good idea of where the top of the zone was. I threw way more curveballs. We got that pitch really involved in the game plan. … If I can keep doing that for 30 starts or whatever that number is, I think we’ll be in a really good place going forward.”
Taillon only ran into trouble in the third inning, giving up back-to-back doubles to Guillermo Heredia and Ehire Adrianza as the Braves took a 1-0 lead. But he stranded Adrianza at second with back-to-back strikeouts of Freeman and Marcell Ozuna to get out of the inning.
Otherwise it was a strong start for Taillon as he tries to settle into a groove after not pitching last year — the same process Corey Kluber is hoping to build on Wednesday to further bolster the rotation.
“I’ve loved what I’ve seen frankly, really, the whole way,” Boone said of Taillon. “I really feel like this is what we’ve been seeing and it’s been building a little more and more each time. I’m pretty pleased with where he’s at in his buildup and his progress.”