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Jameson Taillon’s First MLB Win Took a While, But the Timing Was Perfect For the Pirates

From the moment he got drafted to the moment he officially earned his first big-league victory, this was not how Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon imagined it would all happen. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth the wait, though.

Expectations were high within seconds of him learning he was taken with the second overall pick in the 2010 MLB draft — right after Bryce Harper and right before Manny Machado. Those expectations continued growing after just 23 career minor league starts when analysts began mentioning him as one of baseball’s top 20 prospects. He continued proving those analysts right as he rose all the way up to Triple-A as a 21-year-old in 2013.

And then suddenly, everything had to be put on hold. In the blink of an eye, Taillon went from being a stud top prospect on the verge of his big-league debut to being sidelined with injuries for two full seasons.

Then, it happened – the call Taillon was anticipating on getting sometime during 2014 finally came on June 8 in front of the home crowd at PNC Park against the New York Mets. It wasn’t a Stephen Strasburg-like debut, but it wasn’t too shabby. The right-hander delivered a quality start by allowing three runs on six hits, two walks and three strikeouts in six innings of work.

Little did he know how soon and how important his second MLB start would be.

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Pittsburgh Pirates Pitching Prospect, Jameson Taillon, Could Be The Next Big Fantasy Baseball Star

It is just a matter of time before Jameson Taillon finds himself standing on the mound in a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform. For those who aren’t familiar with Taillon, it is time to get familiar. He was drafted in the first round (second overall) by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2010.

 

From 2011 to 2013, he shot up the organization and was on the fast track to a promotion to the big league team. Unfortunately, he was sidelined in 2014 after receiving Tommy John Surgery. Luckily for the Pirates, it looks like Taillon is back to his dominating ways since his recovery.

 

In 2016, he has thrown 49.1 innings, with a 1.82 ERA, 51 strikeouts, and only 5 walks in Triple-A. He is ready for the big leagues, it is just a matter of finding him a spot in the rotation for him. The Pirates’ rotation is currently filled by Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano, Jon Niese, Jeff Locke, and Juan Nicasio.

 

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6 MLB Teams Who Could Take Advantage of Stephen Strasburg’s Extension This Winter

Just a couple weeks ago, Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg was watching a perfect free-agent storm happen right before his eyes. Not only was he dominating on the mound, but he also would easily be the best available hurler on the open market this winter.

Instead of trying to maximize his earning potential, the Scott Boras client opted for comfort and familiar surroundings. Doing this was obviously much easier since he was signing a seven-year, $175 million deal with two opt-outs, as well.

It’s not every day we see a player with Strasburg’s potential (and a Boras client) take a deal that’s probably below market value. For teams in need of top-tier starting pitchers, it left them with not-so-inspiring options when looking ahead at the remaining hurlers projected to be free agents in a few months.

There are certain MLB teams with depth on the mound that could take advantage of this situation by putting one or more of their young pitchers on the trading block. Here are six organizations with the ability to do so:

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Fantasy Baseball Two-Start Pitchers Week Five Rankings: 5/2-5/8

Below you can find the two start pitchers for week five (5/2-5/8) and their match-ups. If you have any questions or comments about this article or fantasy baseball, please Tweet me @dynasty_digest. If you enjoyed this post, please follow my blog for more updates!

  1. Matt Harvey (vs. ATL/ @ SD)

  2. Dallas Keuchel (vs. MIN/ vs. SEA)

  3. Jake Arrieta (@ PIT/ vs. WAS)

  4. Johnny Cueto (@ CIN/ vs. COL)

  5. Gerrit Cole (vs. CHC/ @ STL)

 

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MLB Power Rankings 2016: Week 2 – April

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Hunter Stokes (BBBA Featured Writer) 

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Disclaimer:  We based these rankings on best strength to win the World Series.  Therefore some teams that have an easier division to play in, with the least path of resistance to the postseason overall may be ranked a lot higher than a club who is equally talented, yet may play in a juggernaut of a division.

The Cubs will top our list for a second straight week despite losing 2 out of 3 games to the Rockies at Wrigley Field this weekend.  The biggest reason is the pitching.

Jake Arrieta is 3 – 0, and has picked up right where we he left off in 2015, and Jon Lester has thrown awesome too.  The Bullpen has also been good.

The bats are too solid not to come around and gel as the season moves along.  They are playing .750 baseball after a 4 – 2 week still.

Bryce Harper is the best player on the planet, and has homered in 6 straight contests at Citizens Bank Ball Park (4 overall in a row for the MLB this year.)

Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg. Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy are their top players – and all performing like it, the rest of the club is following through in their secondary roles.  This team is scary.

I have the Royals as the top American League club.  This squad is 8 – 1 in games that are not started by back end of the rotation man Chris Young.

The reigning 2 time pennant winners have company on the top of the Division to make it interesting, however this team has the better pedigree the last few years.

Some may say with a weekend series win – that the Dodgers should be put in front of the Giants, yet they are still only one game ahead of San Francisco.

With the Giants – there is no real weakness, while with the Los Angeles team, the Bullpen is not giving everyone confidence in the back half of games.

The Dodger Blue is still in the top 5, so I am high on them. Kenta Maeda could be the steal of the winter with how this guy is throwing so far.  Reinforcements are starting to come back. Read the rest of this entry

Gregory Polanco Extension Further Signifies What’s Truly Important to Pittsburgh Pirates

Given the current (and future) state of MLB contracts, it’s important for small market teams to lock up elite young talent at an affordable price when the opportunity presents itself.

Keeping up with NL Central teams like the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals without spending a bunch of money is always a challenge for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but it’s going alright so far in 2016. It’s only been three games, but Andrew McCutchen and Co. swept St. Louis in their season-opening series.

That wasn’t the only good news for the Pirates this week, either. They recently announced that the organization agreed to a five-year, $35 million extension (plus two option years) with 24-year-old outfielder, Gregory Polanco.

This agreement means a few different things moving ahead for the Pirates, but one thing that should be crystal clear for everyone in baseball is they value young position players way more than young pitching.

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Odds To Win The 2016 NL Cy Young In The MLB: Best And Worst Bets

Max Scherzer threw 2 no-hitters in 2015, and carried no - no's into the late innings on a few other occasions. The man set highs in Strikeouts, Innings Pitched, ERA, WHIP and BB per 9 innings. On a club that will win 90+ games, I believe Scherzer will mop up the NL East all season. I am calling for the guy to win his 1st Cy Young in the National League - after winning the AL honor in 2013.

Max Scherzer threw 2 no-hitters in 2015, and carried no – no’s into the late innings on a few other occasions. The man set highs in Strikeouts, Innings Pitched, ERA, WHIP and BB per 9 innings. On a club that will win 90+ games, I believe Scherzer will mop up the NL East all season. I am calling for the guy to win his 1st Cy Young in the National League – after winning the AL honor in 2013.

Hunter Stokes (BBBA Featured Writer) 

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Clayton Kershaw finally didn’t win a NL CY Young Award last season – and it took historical seasons by Jake Arrieta and Zack Greinke to usurp him of the throne.

The Dodgers chucker still fanned over 300 batters (301) for the 1st time in over a decade, was 16 – 7 – while leading the League in CG/SHO/IP/SO/SO per 9 IP – with still fashioning a ridiculous WHIP of 0.881.

Kershaw finished 3rd in the races, and now has 5 straight campaigns of top 3 finishes.  His +125 odd to win again is about par for the course per this odd, however – just like the American League, I am going to go for the value play more on this list than the favorite.

Last year’s winner (Arrieta) is next on the faves with a mark of +400.  I absolutely hate this odd, and for one – think it will be an impossible feat to do what he did all over again.  Based on the Cubs offense he won’t need to either.

I see Arrieta still putting forth a great season, with a top 15 Cy Young Vote, but have to call his odd of +400 value the 2nd worst on the board. Read the rest of this entry

Can The Pittsburgh Pirates Get Over the NL Wild Card Hump This Year?

For two decades, losing was synonymous with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Those comparisons were finally laid to rest in 2013, as the organization began a stretch of three straight winning campaigns, which has coincided with three consecutive playoff appearances.

Now, the next issue they must figure out how to conquer is winning one more game. Yes, they won 98 of them in 2015, but we’re talking specifically about the NL Wild Card game.

After Pittsburgh beat the Cincinnati Reds behind the strength of Francisco Liriano in this contest back in 2013, they’ve been met with disappointment over the last two seasons. In 2014, they ran into Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants, getting shut out 8-0. Then, it was eventual NL Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta and the Chicago Cubs, who beat them 4-0 at PNC Park.

The loss last October especially had to sting – a year after getting shut out at home, the last thing this squad envisioned was more of the same the following year. It undoubtedly left a sour taste for an organization that boasted the second-best record in baseball and notched their most wins since 1991.

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Forget Prospects When Your Window Is Open To Win With Good (To ALL – Star) MLB Players Available!

I am sick and tired of hearing about Draft Picks being coveted by clubs, and in particular with the picks 11 - 30th having to be given up as compensation for signing a guy who was extended a Qualifying Offer. Prospects turn into Suspects in a real hurry. Only 4 or 5 out of the picks 11 - 30 contribute significantly within 4 years. Meaning if your roster is poised now, go ahead and burn your pick by signing proven players that can help your squad right now!

I am sick and tired of hearing about Draft Picks being coveted by clubs, and in particular with the picks 11 – 30th having to be given up as compensation for signing a guy who was extended a Qualifying Offer. Prospects turn into Suspects in a real hurry. Only 4 or 5 out of the picks 11 – 30 contribute significantly within 4 years usually. Meaning if your roster is poised to win right now, go ahead and burn your pick by signing proven players that can help your squad right now!

Hunter Stokes (BBBA Featured Writer) 

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I can’t stand it when I hear that ready to win Major League Clubs are holding off on good Free Agent Signing because of a pending Draft Pick in the coming MLB Amateur Draft being forfeited.

For current organizations like the  Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays, Los Angeles Angels, Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Mets, Detroit Tigers, KC Royals, Washington Nationals, Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants – all of them project to be contenders in 2016 except the O’s, and the last 6 clubs listed here are acting on that – while the 1st 4 are not.

Let me kind of qualify that.  The Jays did in 2015 – and may do so in 2016.  The real truth will be told by the August.1 Trade Deadline.  Not picking up a top end rotation guy by then will hurt their chances to win in the last few months and definitely in the playoffs. Read the rest of this entry

Can Gerrit Cole Rely On His Slider Again In 2016?

In what seems like another lifetime ago, I wrote that Gerrit Cole was now relying on his slider in 2015 as his go-to pitch.

At the time, Cole’s development of a killer secondary pitch to complement his fastball was something that was in its infancy.

After bursting onto the scene in 2013 with a fastball that could tap 100mph on radar, Cole showed a greater reliance on his fastball while still mixing in his sinker, slider, and curveball.

He even put an emphasis on his still-burgeoning changeup early in the season before that, too, which also took a backseat to the heat.

Despite that emphasis on secondary pitches, Cole was often forced to go back to the fastball in 2014.

The simple fact is that the changeup, curveball, and sinker were getting knocked around a bit, with line drive rates of 30.43 percent, 35 percent, and 28.07 percent respectively.

The sinking fastball and changeup both had batting averages against of .300 or more, with the changeup also displaying a crooked .643 SLG percentage.

It was clear that Cole was still figuring out which weapon in his arsenal would be that second “go-to” pitch.

Enter the slider.

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