The Pirates have appointed right-hander Jameson Taillon their Opening Day starter for 2019, per a team announcement on Saturday. It’s the first such appointment for the 27-year-old Taillon, who will take the mound when the Pirates open the season on the road against the Reds on March 28.
“It’s a big honor,” Taillon told reporters. “I get to kick off the season for the boys, set the tone. Obviously I care about the body of work and stuff, but it is a big honor to get the ball Opening Day. Growing up a fan of baseball, there was a certain stigma around Opening Day starter[s]. I would always look forward to when teams would announce it.”
The decision to go with Taillon comes as a no-brainer after his career year in 2018. According to FanGraphs, the righty was the most valuable starter in the Pirates’ rotation after going 14-10 in 32 starts with a 3.20 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.4 SO/9, and 3.7 fWAR across 191 innings.
He’ll head the rotation again in 2019 with a combination of right-handers Trevor Williams, Joe Musgrove, and Chris Archer behind him. The fifth spot is still up for grabs, but may be nabbed by any one of Jordan Lyles, Nick Kingham, or Steven Brault depending on how things shake out in spring training. Archer, 30, will get the nod for the club’s first home game against the Cardinals on April 1, while Williams and Musgrove are currently slated to fill in the starts between the two openers.