The potential of Taillon before his injuries might offer some upside for the Angels.
I can understand if Angels fans have heard this narrative before, and the thought of bringing in a pitcher with a track record of injuries is something they would like avoid. However looking at Taillon’s numbers leading up to his injury, he has ace material.
As the second overall pick in the 2010 MLB draft out of high school, Taillon clearly had the pedigree to be a solid major league starter. The right-hander was dominant in the minors from 2011-2013 until he sustained an initial injury to his UCL requiring Tommy John surgery that kept him out of action in the 2014 season. He suffered a sports hernia in his recovery process which then forced him to miss the 2015 season.
Once 2016 arrived he was finally healthy and flashed the potential of a second overall pick. In ten Triple-A starts, Taillon pitched to a 4-2 record with a 2.04 ERA.
After making his anticipated big-league debut, Taillon finished the season with a 3.38 ERA to go along with a 7.4 K/9 in 18 starts. Taillon also posted a better bWAR than teammate Gerrit Cole (2.1 vs 1.7).
Taillon was out to prove that he was worth his draft stock, unfortunately, the biggest battle was still to come.
In 2017 after starting the year in the rotation, he was put on the IL in May as he battled testicular cancer. In true warrior fashion, he made his first rehab start three weeks later and finished the year with the Pirates posting a 4.44 ERA in 25 starts. While those numbers do not jump out, he really showed true strength and determination to get back on the field.
Taillon’s battle set him up for a solid 2018 season, where he finished with a 14-10 record 3.20 ERA to go along with a slightly higher FIP of 3.46. Additionally, his strikeout rate was the highest of his career at 8.4 K/9.
As he started building momentum, the 2019 season brought a setback. After seven starts, Taillon was forced to undergo surgery to repair a flexor tendon and have a revision on his repaired UCL. These kept him out additionally for all of 2020, meaning that he will be fresh once he steps back on the mound in 2021.
Similar to the career of James Paxton, the injury history is there but when Taillon has been on the field he has still been more than a serviceable starter. Holding a career 3.55 FIP along with 3.58 K/BB ratio shows the obvious fit in the Angels rotation. Some of his numbers are also inflated by his 2017 which saw him battle anything bigger than he would on the field (3.10 BB/9 in 2017).
Taillon has the stuff to be a top-tier pitcher in the league, as well as the second overall pedigree that would greatly benefit the Halo’s rotation.