Jameson Taillon's command leads to 10-strikeout performance against Mets

“Everything was working,” center fielder Pete Crow-Armstrong said. “I liked seeing his cutter today a lot. There’s always a certain ease about how [Taillon] takes the mound.”

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Right-hander Jameson Taillon pitches a baseball during a New York Mets vs Chicago Cubs game.

Right-hander Jameson Taillon’s superb performance helped the Cubs in their 8-1 win against the Mets.

Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty

After the Cubs missed an opportunity to turn a double play, starter Jameson Taillon had runners on first and third with one out in the fourth inning.

The Cubs had the momentum, but moments like that can flip a game. As he stood on the mound, Taillon told himself, ‘‘This could be a really big turning point for me.’’

Taillon proceeded to strike out left fielder DJ Stewart and center fielder Tyrone Taylor, stranding the two runners.

“Proud of the way I put my foot down right there,” Taillon said.

Taillon was excellent Saturday, going seven innings, allowing one run and six hits, walking none and striking out 10 — his most with the Cubs — in an 8-1 victory against the Mets. The only other Cubs pitcher with 10 strikeouts is hard-throwing rookie Ben Brown. Taillon (4-3) finished one strikeout shy of his career high.

His K’s came because of his approach, execution and command. Taillon became the first Cubs starter to pitch at least seven innings, strike out 10 and walk none since left-hander Drew Smyly did it last year in April.

Taillon said he doesn’t chase swings-and-misses unless it’s an 0-2 count with runners in scoring position. He sticks to his approach and lets the results happen.

He doesn’t have overwhelming stuff, but Taillon knows how to keep hitters off-balance with an array of pitches — his fastball, cutter, curveball and sweeper are used at least 15% of the time. When his command is clicking like it was against the Mets, it makes him a tough pitcher to face with all those pitches at his disposal.

The lead the Cubs gave Taillon also allowed him to “settle in and fill it up.” When Taillon took the mound for the second inning, the Cubs had a 5-0 lead.

“You still want to not let them score, but you’re not as afraid of contact, which is funny because I struck out more than I normally do,” Taillon said. “But I think that’s because I wasn’t afraid to fill it up, getting good counts and throwing a bunch of strikes.

“Pitching with a lead is nice, and you can throw more strikes. If it’s a 3-2 game, maybe you throw a pitch over the zone where you might try to get a chase in a tight game, but you still stick to your strengths.”

Throwing two-seamers to right-handed hitters, throwing his cutter against lefties and throwing curveballs against right-handed hitters illustrated how dialed in Taillon was as he used his full arsenal.

The early lead allowed Taillon to be aggressive from the first pitch as 61 of his 93 pitches were strikes.

“Everything was working,” center fielder Pete Crow-Armstrong said. “I liked seeing his cutter today a lot. There’s always a certain ease about how [Taillon] takes the mound.”

With so much attention being placed on the Cubs’ lackluster offense and unreliable bullpen, Taillon’s strong start has flown under the radar. He has a 2.90 ERA in 12 starts with a 1.27 WHIP.

Though the double-digit strikeouts were surprising, Taillon was more impressed with the zero walks, which was a testament to how precise he was.

“I’m always proud of no walks,” Taillon said. “I like to keep the walks down to zero or one. It shows that I was efficient, being able to strike people out without walking them.

“It’s not like I was effectively wild; I was around the zone all day. I’ll take that, and if strikeouts happen, they happen, but I never chase that.”

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