Things continue to get worse and worse for the struggling Pittsburgh Pirates. At 6-24, the Pirates have baseball’s worst record since the All-Star break, and on Wednesday they announced Opening Day starter Jameson Taillon required elbow surgery.
Specifically, Taillon needed surgery to repair his flexor tendon and ulnar collateral ligament. It is his second Tommy John surgery. Here is the team’s announcement:
The Pittsburgh Pirates today announced that right-handed pitcher Jameson Taillon underwent flexor tendon repair surgery on Tuesday, August 13. The surgery was performed by Dr. David Altchek at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. During the procedure it was determined that Jameson also required right elbow UCL revision surgery (Tommy John surgery), which was also performed by Dr. Altchek yesterday.
The surgery will sideline Taillon the remainder of 2019 and all of 2020, the team says. He is expected back in 2021. Taillon has not pitched since May 1 this year due to ongoing elbow problems. He had his first Tommy John surgery as a minor leaguer in March 2014.
Taillon, 27, has emerged as a rock solid starter since making his MLB debut in June 2016. He owns a career 3.67 ERA in 82 starts and 466 innings, and last season he pitched to a 3.20 ERA in a career high 191 innings. Taillon was a trendy pick to make the jump from above-average starter to bona fide ace this year, before the injuries struck.
Starting pitching has been a major issue for the 2019 Pirates. Chris Archer, Joe Musgrove, and Trevor Williams have collectively underperformed — the trio has a 5.04 ERA in 348 1/3 innings — and fill-ins like Dario Agrazal and top prospect Mitch Keller have struggled. Also, Jordan Lyles crashed hard in recent weeks before being sent to the Brewers.
Without Taillon, the path to contention in 2020 will be that much more difficult for a Pirates team that lacks the young talent core and financial resources of their NL Central counterparts. Josh Bell is a star and Bryan Reynolds is having a Rookie of the Year caliber season. The talent base thins out a bit after that and Taillon was Pittsburgh’s best hope for an impact starter.
The Pirates control Taillon as an arbitration-eligible player through the 2022 season. Historically, the second Tommy John surgery is much riskier than the first, though there have been more success stories in recent years. Nathan Eovaldi and Daniel Hudson in particular have had success since their second elbow reconstruction.
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