Posted on June 10, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Pittsburgh Pirates announced Saturday that Jameson Taillon will return from the DL and start Monday when the team hosts the Colorado Rockies. Taillon’s return will come five weeks after being diagnosed with testicular cancer. The Pirates have optioned the struggling Tyler Glasnow to triple-A to make room for Taillon on the active roster.
“Physically, mentally I’m 100 percent. I’m as sharp as I’ve been all year,” Taillon said Saturday. “If anything, I had some time while I was away to work on things that I wanted to get done and sharpen up, so I’m probably in a better spot now than I was before.”
Taillon originally went on the DL on May 6 with what the team called groin discomfort. But upon further examination, doctors suspected that Taillon may have testicular cancer. He underwent surgery to treat his cancer on May 8. Taillon was soon cleared to resume throwing and has progressed rather quickly following the health scare.
In his return following the surgery, Taillon has started three minor league rehab games. In those three starts, he struck out 21 over 14 innings, posting an ERA of 3.21. Taillon says he couldn’t be happier with where he’s at now following a cancer diagnosis a little over a month ago.
“It starts out you just hope for any good news back and you get that. Then you’re able to throw and then once you’re able to throw you keep getting good news back,” said Taillon. “I was able to get back on the bullpen mound and once I threw some good bullpens I was ready for rehab. Truly that one-step-at-a-time deal really rings true with me right now and all those steps added up and here I am.”
Unfortunately, Taillon is the second major league pitcher to miss time due to cancer this season. Rockies starter Chad Bettis underwent surgery to treat testicular cancer in December. However, he learned in March that his cancer has spread, forcing him to undergo chemotherapy. He’s recently been cleared to resume baseball activities but has no timetable for his return.
Prior to going on the DL, Taillon was 2-1 with a 3.31 ERA in six starts. It was a promising follow-up to what was an excellent rookie season for Taillon in 2016. The former first round pick posted a 3.38 ERA in 18 starts last season. He was well on his way to forming a 1-2 punch at the top of Pittsburgh’s rotation alongside Gerrit Cole. The Pirates now hope that Taillon can pick up where he left off. Of course, Taillon is just happy to be getting back on the field.
“After this right here, I really want to be a pitcher again,” Taillon said. “I just want to be a guy on the team, making starts and doing my job.”
Heading into Saturday, the Pirates are nine games under .500, in large part due to players like Taillon, Starling Marte, Jung Ho Kang, Gregory Polanco, and others all missing time for various reasons. But despite those struggles, the Pirates are far from out of it. They are just six and a half games out of first place in a rather mediocre NL Central, and so the door remains open for the Pirates to make a move.
Of course, the Pirates have to make their move soon. Otherwise, they may end up being sellers at the trade deadline. The return of Taillon will be a good step in the right direction for them. There are no guarantees that he’ll be able to pick up where he left off earlier this year. But if he’s able to regain the form he had in April, Taillon could be the spark the Pirates need to get things turned around.