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

Brian Cashman signs 4-year contract to remain Yankees GM

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SAN DIEGO — Brian Cashman has signed a four-year contract to remain the New York Yankees Senior Vice President and General Manager. The announcement was made during the first day of baseball’s Winter Meetings.

Cashman, New York’s GM since 1998, had been working on a handshake agreement since early November, when his five-year contract expired.

The Yankees were swept by four games in the AL Championship Series and haven’t reached the World Series since winning in 2009. It is the franchise’s longest title drought since an 18-year gap between 1978-96.

Cashman’s main goal during the offseason is trying to re-sign AL MVP Aaron Judge.

Judge hit an American League-record 62 homers this season with a .311 batting average and 131 RBIs. He turned down the Yankees’ offer on the eve of opening day of a seven-year contract that would have paid $213.5 million from 2023-29.

While Judge remains on the market, Cashman was able to re-sign Anthony Rizzo on Nov. 15 to a two-year contract worth $40 million after turning down a $16 million player option.

Cashman has been the Yankees general manager since 1998. He has been with the organization since 1986, when he was a 19-year old intern in the scouting department. In his 25 seasons as GM, the Yankees have reached the postseason 21 times, including four World Series championships and six American League titles.