The Chicago Cubs still hope Jameson Taillon will be the pitcher they expected upon signing him to a hefty contract.
However, considering how well the Cincinnati Reds fared against one of the Cubs' best pitchers in the series opener on Friday, Taillon could be in for another challenging outing when the teams continue their set Saturday in Chicago.
Signed to a four-year, $68 million deal, Taillon (0-3, 8.10 ERA) has been the Cubs' biggest disappointment this season. The right-hander allowed a season-high eight runs (six earned) on six hits, including Kyle Schwarber's first-inning grand slam, and three walks in 2 1/3 innings of last Saturday's 12-3 loss at Philadelphia.
It was the fourth time in seven starts that Taillon allowed at least four runs. He's yet to complete more than five innings in any outing this season.
"It's crappy," Taillon said. "Especially being on a new team, and in a new place. (I) want to prove I deserve to be here and I'm a good player."
This is the longest in any of Taillon's seven major-league seasons that he's gone without a win. He was slated to pitch Thursday against the New York Mets, but the Cubs opted to start Kyle Hendricks for his 2023 debut. That gave Taillon some extra rest.
"We're going to try to help support when a guy's struggling," Chicago manager David Ross said. "And, he's going through a tough time right now.
"He'll put the work in, and we'll put the work in to try to be better."
Taillon is 4-5 with a 4.44 ERA in 13 starts against the Reds, but last opposed them in 2019. He'll face a group that set season highs for hits (19) and doubles (seven) during Friday's 9-0 rout of the Cubs. Cincinnati is 3-2 since losing six of seven but hasn't won two straight since a three-game run from May 11-13.
"(Friday's performance) is something to obviously build off of," the Reds' Tyler Stephenson told Bally Sports Ohio.
"Still got to go to work. Happy with how the at-bats went (Friday). We're getting closer."
Cincinnati's Spencer Steer, who has yet to face Taillon, joined Stephenson with three hits and a run on Friday. Steer is batting .425 (17-for-40) with one homer, four doubles and seven RBIs during a nine-game hitting streak. Meanwhile, teammate Matt McLain is batting .325 with two homers and six RBIs in 10 games since making his major-league debut on May 15.
The Reds' Hunter Greene struck 11 over 110 pitches through six no-hit innings on Friday against the Cubs, who managed just two singles while being shut out for the first time in 2023. Chicago has been outscored 19-1 in losing its past two after opening this nine-game homestand with two straight victories over the Mets.
The Cubs will get their first look at scheduled Cincinnati starter Brandon Williamson (0-0, 3.60 ERA). In his MLB debut, the left-hander allowed one run and two hits and struck out six in 5 2/3 innings at Colorado on May 16, then yielded four runs -- three earned -- with four hits and four walks through 4 1/3 frames against St. Louis on Monday.
Chicago's Christopher Morel, who broke up the no-hit bid on Friday, is batting .333 in 15 games this season. He's hit .323 in 17 career games versus Cincinnati.
--Field Level Media