Things haven’t gone quite the way Jameson Taillon had hoped for or expected in this 2023 season. Jameson knew he was coming into a situation with promising youngster Justin Steele who finished the 2022 season blisteringly hot. He knew that Marcus Stroman had previously signed a large free agent contract with the Cubs. He had to hope he’d comfortably slot in as the Cubs’ third starter. He had to hope that he’d be a contributor on an ascending team and that if things went well for he and the team, they just might have a shot at getting to play postseason baseball.
Things broke pretty well for the team, but they broke poorly for Taillon. He struggled early, then got hurt. He worked his way back, then in a start in the Bronx against his most recent former team, he had his best start of the year. He had a decent stretch of games, but just couldn’t sustain anything. He’s been healthy since that early injury, but he’s battled to have full control of his arsenal of pitches.
He hadn’t won a game before Friday since August 8. Over that time, he made one very good start, and allowed four or more runs in six of his last seven starts. To be sure, there were a couple of defensive lapses behind him that led to a total of six unearned runs in those six starts. In one of the starts he was tagged with eight runs. Counting Friday, nine times in 28 starts he has allowed two or less runs.
Sports can be a funny thing though. As much as Jameson would surely like to shake the Etch-A-Sketch and start over, the show must go on. Still, the Cubs have nowhere near enough healthy and productive pitchers to end this season. Instead, in what was essentially a must-win game, they handed him the ball. And on Friday afternoon, he wasn’t great. He allowed four hits and four walks over six innings. Six shutout innings. And he collected his eighth win on the season.
The Cubs got a bit of help Friday night and Jameson’s efforts have helped push the Cubs back into control of the third Wild Card spot. Additionally, they moved back within striking distance of the second Wild Card spot. I’m not sure at this point if there is a preferred matchup as to which spot to end up in. I just keep hoping for them to be in the second spot because it means they have a one-team buffer from being out of the playoffs entirely.
This season will have been successful and a lot of fun to have followed win or lose, playoffs or not. But it will never not be a better outcome to reach the playoffs and to have at least a chance to play extra baseball and keep the season going. To be sure, it will be hard with a badly depleted bullpen. But, I don’t think that means you don’t fight for it.
Let’s find three stars in a satisfying Friday afternoon for Cubs baseball.
- Seiya Suzuki had three of the Cubs’ seven hits. One of those was a homer. He drove in the first three runs and scored twice.
- Taillon’s six scoreless innings.
- Jared Young got a start and he made the most of it, slugging a two-run homer.
Game 154, September 22: Cubs 6, Rockies 0 (80-74)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Jameson Taillon (.312). 6 IP, 25 batters, 4 H, 4 BB, 0 R, 7 K, WP (W 8-10)
- Hero: Seiya Suzuki (.185). 3-4, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, K
- Sidekick: Mike Tauchman (.053). 1-2, BB, HBP, R
- Billy Goat: Nico Hoerner (-.048). 0-4, SB
- Goat: Dansby Swanson (-.040). 1-3, BB, RBI, R
- Kid: Miguel Amaya (-.024). 0-4
WPA Play of the Game: Seiya Suzuki’s two-run homer with no outs in the fourth gave the Cubs a three-run lead. (.144)
*Rockies Play of the Game: Noah Davis retired Dansby Swanson with one out and the bases loaded and a scoreless first. (.072)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Jared Young (1-3, HR, 2RBI, R)
Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments)
Yesterday’s Winner: Nico Hoerner (Superhero 104-49)
Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 6/Bottom 6)
The award is named for Anthony Rizzo, who finished first in this category three of the first four years it was in existence and four times overall. He also recorded the highest season total ever at +65.5. The point scale is three points for a Superhero down to negative three points for a Billy Goat.
- Cody Bellinger +33
- Ian Happ +20.5
- Adbert Alzolay +18
- Justin Steele +16
- Marcus Stroman +14
- Javier Assad +13
- Michael Fulmer -9
- Dansby Swanson -12
- Patrick Wisdom/Drew Smyly -15
- Trey Mancini -20.5
- Jameson Taillon -23
- Diamondbacks lose
- Marlins lose second straight
- Reds lose second straight
- Giants win
- Padres win
The Diamondbacks are 3½ games behind the Phillies and hold the second Wild Card. The Cubs are back to sole possession of the third Wild Card, one game behind the Diamondbacks. The Marlins are a game behind the Cubs and the Reds a game and a half back. The Giants are three losses behind the Cubs with only eight games to play and the Padres are four losses behind.
Up Next: Marcus Stroman (10-8, 3.76, 131⅔ IP) starts for the Cubs. Marcus worked twice in relief last weekend in Arizona. He’s not started a game since July 31. Over his last seven appearances, five of them starts before the injury, Marcus is 1-2 with a 9.25 ERA.
29-year-old-righty Chris Flexen (1-8, 7.19, 91⅓ IP) starts for the Rockies. The 2012 14th round pick of the Mets is 0-3 with a 6.06 ERA over his last seven starts. Two starts ago he pitched into the sixth against the Cubs, allowing three runs on nine hits and two walks.
The Cubs have little choice at this point other than to keep winning. They got some help on Friday. They need to get greedy and take two more games this weekend and hope some of their cushion regenerates.