“I hate seeing videos of the way I used to throw,” he said. “It disgusts me. I love where I’m at now.”
The goal of his mechanical renovation was to take pressure off his elbow by using more leg thrust and shortening his arm path. It took time, he said, but he has adopted the new approach and says it not only protects his elbow, but it has also changed — and, perhaps, improved — the action on several of his pitches.
Taillon said that he now had more spin on his fastball and that his cut fastball had evolved into more of a true slider. He has found his sinker to be less effective, but he still relies on a sloping curveball, having discovered a comfortable grip on his evolving changeup, which gives him the potential for at least five pitches.
“Health is the main goal,” he said, “but I think performance will be a really good byproduct of it.”
As a home experiment last week, Taillon executed his old windup in his house, he said, and found the motion “foreign,” an indication of how entrenched his new mechanics had become.
He underwent his first Tommy John surgery as a minor league pitcher in 2014. He recovered from testicular cancer in 2017 and still made 25 starts that year. Then, while recovering from his second reconstructive elbow surgery in 2019, he drew inspiration from his friend and former teammate Daniel Hudson, who was on the mound when the Washington Nationals clinched the World Series that year.
Hudson also had two Tommy John surgeries, and Taillon was in Houston watching Game 7. Taillon said he grew emotional seeing Hudson prove it was possible to succeed after two such procedures. Now, in pinstripes, Taillon could inspire other pitchers, too.