More of the same for Jameson Taillon as Cubs sink to last place in NL Central

Signed to a four-year, $68 million free-agent contract in the offseason, Taillon failed to last five innings for the fifth time in a row as the Cubs lost their third straight.

SHARE More of the same for Jameson Taillon as Cubs sink to last place in NL Central
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Jameson Taillon delivers during Saturday’s game.

AP Photos

Jameson Taillon and the Cubs needed good things to happen Saturday. Taillon entered the matchup against the Reds carrying an 8.10 ERA, and the Cubs had been outscored by 18 runs over their last two games.

Taillon showed slight improvement. As for the Cubs, it was more of the same and a spot at the bottom of the weak National League Central.

Taillon went 4‰ innings and allowed four runs and six hits in the Cubs’ 8-5 loss to the Reds. Signed to a four-year, $68 million free-agent contract in the offseason, he was added to stabilize the rotation and give the Cubs a dependable arm.

That’s not what they’ve gotten from Taillon, who couldn’t help the Cubs avoid their third consecutive loss. The bullpen faltered once Taillon left. Jonathan India hit two-run homers off Michael Fulmer and Jeremiah Estrada.

Taillon, however, is more important to the Cubs’ long-term future, and his time in Chicago has not begun well, especially considering the price tag. Manager David Ross did see some positives, though Taillon missed a chance to get through the fifth when he got the first two batters but walked TJ Friedl.

Friedl subsequently stole second and scored on Matt McLain’s bloop single, ending Taillon’s night. Fulmer then gave up India’s first two-run blast.

“That’s baseball,” Taillon said. “I’ve been kind of fighting, scratching, clawing this year a little bit, and obviously when you’re struggling, those things seem to show up a little bit more. If I was absolutely cruising and there weren’t people on or I didn’t have a two-out walk, we wouldn’t be talking about the weak [59.6 mph] exit-velocity hit.

“Hopefully, the bounces go my way a little more, but at the same time, I feel like if I just take care of what I need to take care of, I’ll be in a good spot.”

Taillon has allowed four or more runs in four consecutive starts. Since coming off the injured list May 4, Taillon, who had a strained left groin, has compiled a 10.90 ERA. To get him right, the Cubs want to tweak Taillon’s pitch usage and get him on the attack.

Maybe that will add something else to his repertoire.

“It’s hard to fake confidence when you’re out there struggling,” Ross said. “He hasn’t had the cleanest games to even get on a roll since he’s been back from the IL. Just making sure he’s able to build his confidence and work toward doing what he does best.”

Ross offered that Taillon is trying to prove himself after joining a new team. A journeyman during his playing days, Ross knows that can be difficult.

“I think that’s definitely something every guy to some extent internalizes and wants to do good for the organization and do good for their family and fans and help win ballgames,” Ross said.

Even if the numbers weren’t great, Taillon thought the outing was “probably a closer version” of himself than he has shown recently.

“Not so much results-wise, more just pitch package, stuff, conviction, aggression in the strike zone,” Taillon said. “I thought that was a lot closer to where I need to be, but we’re still obviously not quite there yet. But I thought it was a good step.”

The Cubs also aren’t there yet. They’ve lost five of seven and dropped to seven games below .500.

“This would be a really fun group to win with and accomplish great things with,” Taillon said. “But we need to start piling up some [wins].”

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