Pirates’ Jameson Taillon has Tommy John surgery, out until 2021
The news for Jameson Taillon couldn’t have been worse.
During Taillon’s flexor tendon surgery Tuesday, Dr. David Altchek determined Taillon also needed Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. The Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher, who started the season atop the rotation but hasn’t pitched since May 5, will miss the entire 2020 season and won’t be able to return to the mound until ’21.
When Taillon was told he needed the tendon surgery, it was hoped Altchek wouldn’t find further damage. He did, and the result is Taillon’s career has suffered another serious setback. Both procedures were performed at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
Todd Tomczyk, the Pirates’ director of sports medicine, said earlier this month the flexor tendon diagnosis is only pre-operative. He said there was a possibility further damage could be found.
“That’s always the surgeon’s discretion once they get in the operation, they may see something,” Tomczyk said at the time. “They will examine and identify all of the other structures.”
Taillon also had Tommy John surgery in 2014 and missed part of the ’17 season with testicular cancer.
Taillon, 27, was the Pirates’ first-round draft choice in 2010, the second player selected overall after the Philadelphia Phillies’ Bryce Harper and before the San Diego Padres’ Manny Machado.
Taillon was expected to be the eventual anchor of the Pirates pitching staff, but he didn’t get his first call-up to the majors until June 8, 2016, 26 months after his first Tommy John surgery.
He missed the 2014 and ’15 seasons. When he started for Triple-A Indianapolis on April 13, 2016, it was his first professional game since the end of the 2013 season. But his recovery was going well, and he joined Trevor Williams as the Pirates’ best starting pitchers last season. Both finished with a 14-10 record.
Taillon had a 3.20 ERA, recording a career-high 191 innings and 179 strikeouts. He walked 46 batters in 32 starts.
Losing Taillon for the 2020 season might require the Pirates to step out of character and find a top-of-the-rotation starter in free agency.
Part of the Pirates projected rotation for next season could include:
• Inconsistent starters Joe Musgrove, Williams and Chris Archer, who pitched Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Angels. Combined this season, they entered Wednesday 16-24 with ERAs of 4.71 (Musgrove), 5.23 (Archer) and 5.25 (Williams).
• Steven Brault, who has moved between starting and relieving the past two seasons.
• Mitch Keller, their top pitching prospect. Keller, 23, has made only four career major league starts but was the winning pitcher Monday night against the Angels.
The Pirates traded starter Jordan Lyles to the Milwaukee Brewers at the deadline July 31.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .