What’s on Tap: Previewing Monday’s action

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Pirates starter Jameson Taillon gets the ball tonight against the Astros’ Doug Fister in a 7:05 PM EDT start at PNC Park. Taillon has been on a roll since coming off of the disabled list shortly after the second half began. Over his last six starts, he has a 2.37 ERA with a 31/4 K/BB ratio in 38 innings.

Taillon had been on the disabled list since late June due to fatigue in his right shoulder. The 24-year-old also missed the 2014-15 seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Understandably, the Pirates plan to limit Taillon’s innings. He has crossed 100 pitches only twice in 11 starts. And with 66 major league innings and 61 2/3 innings at Triple-A, Taillon is close to his professional career-high of 147 1/3 in 2013.

The Pirates, however, are balancing that with a run at the National League Wild Card. They are only three games out of the second Wild Card slot, currently held by the Cardinals, and 4.5 back of the Giants who hold the first slot presently. Do the Pirates play it safe and potentially concede the Wild Card race, or do they go for their third consecutive Wild Card berth and risk Taillon’s durability?

It’s not a perfect parallel, but the Nationals played it safe with Stephen Strasburg in 2012, refusing to let him pitch in the postseason — the franchise’s first postseason appearance since 1981 — despite putting up a 3.16 ERA during the regular season. Strasburg sat out and the Nationals lost the NLDS to the Cardinals in five games. The Nationals received a lot of criticism for the decision, but Strasburg made 30 starts in 2013 and 34 starts in ’14. He was hampered by a benign growth on his back last year and then was placed on the DL with an elbow issue today. No one can say for sure, but if the Nationals pushed Strasburg for potentially 20-30 postseason innings that year, he might not have become the pitcher he is today. And that’s what the Pirates will have to consider with Taillon.

The rest of Monday’s action…

Washington Nationals (A.J. Cole) @ Baltimore Orioles (Dylan Bundy), 7:05 PM EDT

Boston Red Sox (David Price) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Blake Snell), 7:10 PM EDT

Colorado Rockies (Chad Bettis) @ Milwaukee Brewers (Jimmy Nelson), 7:20 PM EDT

Atlanta Braves (Mike Foltynewicz) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (Zack Godley), 9:40 PM EDT

Cleveland Indians (Carlos Carrasco) @ Oakland Athletics (Andrew Triggs), 10:05 PM EDT

Chicago Cubs (Jon Lester) @ San Diego Padres (Edwin Jackson), 10:10 PM EDT

New York Yankees (Michael Pineda) @ Seattle Mariners (Cody Martin), 10:10 PM EDT

Colin Poche, Rays go to arbitration just $125,000 apart

Colin Poche torn UCL
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Reliever Colin Poche went to salary arbitration with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday with the sides just $125,000 apart.

The gap between the $1.3 million the pitcher asked for and the $1,175,000 the team offered was the smallest among the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration figures last month. The case was heard by John Woods, Jeanne Vonhof and Walt De Treux, who will hold their decision until later this month.

A 29-year-old left-hander, Poche had Tommy John surgery on July 29, 2020, and returned to the major leagues last April 22 after six appearances at Triple-A Durham. Poche was 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA and seven saves in 65 relief appearances for the Rays. He struck out 64 and walked 22 in 58 2/3 innings.

Poche had a $707,800 salary last year.

Tampa Bay went to arbitration on Monday with reliever Ryan Thompson, whose decision also is being held until later this month. He asked for $1.2 million and the Rays argued for $1 million.

Rays right-hander Jason Adam and outfielder Harold Ramirez remain scheduled for hearings.

Players and teams have split four decisions thus far. All-Star pitcher Max Fried ($13.5 million) lost to Atlanta and reliever Diego Castillo ($2.95 million) was defeated by Seattle, while pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Marlins.

A decision also is pending for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

Eighteen additional players are eligible for arbitration and hearings are scheduled through Feb. 17. Among the eligible players is Seattle utilityman Dylan Moore, who has a pending three-year contract worth $8,875,000.