MLB Preview: The X-Factor for each American League East team

Sep 28, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Yankees starting pitcher Jameson Taillon (50) pitches to the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 28, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Yankees starting pitcher Jameson Taillon (50) pitches to the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
2 of 3
Next
Jun 23, 2021; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Rich Hill (14) reacts at the end of the fifth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 23, 2021; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Rich Hill (14) reacts at the end of the fifth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Boston Red Sox X-Factor: Starting pitcher Rich Hill

Man, these lists are tough to do during a lockout where the offseason was frozen halfway through. The Red Sox offseason more than likely isn’t complete, especially in the starting pitching department. Still, Rich Hill will be a crucial back-of-the-rotation piece for the Red Sox. Never doubt Chaim Bloom, especially with his Rays pedigree.

The baseball world has waited for the better half of a decade for Rich Hill to begin showing signs of declining, but Dick Mountain isn’t having any of it. With the Mets and the Rays last year, Hill turned in a 3.86 ERA/1.210 WHIP across 150+ innings (all of which fall in line with his career average).

With the Red Sox already losing to Eduardo Rodriguez to free agency, Bloom’s one-year team-friendly deal laden with incentives worth only $8 million has the chance to pay huge dividends.

New York Yankees X-Factor: Starting pitcher Jameson Taillon

Well, let us start by saying that Taillon is an X-Factor because, without him and the rest of the MLBPA player reps, there is no baseball season and all these rumors and lists are in vain.

Outside of his work with the players union, Taillon is one the best feel-good stories in the MLB and the latest example of the untapped potential that lies in the doldrums of Pittsburgh (Clay Holmes anyone?). After a stellar 2018 where Taillon pitched 191 innings of 3.20 ERA/1.178 WHIP baseball, Taillon’s injuries resurfaced again. He is one of the few MLB pitchers with the distinction of having had Tommy John twice. This will be only Taillon’s sixth season in the bigs but, boy, has he been through the ringer. His injury list is already longer than a CVS receipt.

  • 2014-First Tommy John
  • 2015-Sports Hernia
  • 2016-Hit in the head by a comebacker
  • 2017-Testicular Cancer
  • 2019-Hit in the head by a comebacker (again)
  • 2020-Second Tommy John

However, after joining the Yankees in 2021, Taillon pitched well under the bright lights of the Bronx. He compiled a 4.30 ERA/1.306 WHIP across 144.1 Innings. If Taillon can build on a serviceable 2021 to becoming the budding number two in the rotation behind Gerrit Cole (like the scouts thought he would be way back when he was the second overall pick back in 2010), while New York waits on their young pitching to develop, then the Yanks will be primed for a real late-season run.