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Jameson Taillon showing improvement in 2023

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This story was excerpted from Jordan Bastian’s Cubs Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

CHICAGO — When Jameson Taillon retrieves his phone following one of his starts, the Cubs pitcher can usually count on one specific text message among the awaiting notifications. He knows his dad, Michael, will probably have a few thoughts on the outing.

“Sometimes I take the advice,” Taillon said. “Sometimes I just kind of smile and say, ‘That’s his version of really caring.’”

The notes from his father and others in his support system — from his fiancée, family and friends — have been a helpful mental boost for Taillon in this trying season.

The big righty signed a four-year, $68 million contract with the Cubs in the offseason, and his first two months with the team included a stint on the injured list and an 8.10 ERA through seven starts. On May 20, Taillon surrendered eight runs in 2 1/3 innings in Philadelphia in an early-season low point.

“You could see him searching on the mound from his body language,” Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said.

“That’s kind of just one of those rock-bottom moments,” Taillon said. “New organization. New team. I want to live up to expectations. And then I came out of that game and I was like, ‘Well, shoot, it can’t get any worse than this.’”

Things have been trending up since the disastrous outing against the Phillies. In Taillon’s last three outings, specifically, the right-hander has logged a 4.24 ERA in 17 innings, including his first quality start of the season on Tuesday against the Pirates, who made him the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft.

“I feel like we’ve seen a lot more confident guy,” Hoyer said. “Hopefully he can just keep going and building off of that. I still think he’s on the ascent. That’s a good thing for us.”

What feedback has Taillon’s dad offered?

“It depends,” Taillon said with a smile. “Sometimes it’s like, ‘Hey, don’t forget you have a nasty curveball, you should throw it.’ Or sometimes it’s like, ‘Man, your fastball looked great tonight.’”

Taillon’s next start could fall on Father’s Day against the Orioles. The pitcher raved about how his mom would put in the miles driving him and his siblings to all their events. As for his dad, Taillon said he did all he could to learn the game before letting instructors and coaches take over.

“He grew up in Canada, big hockey guy, didn’t know much about baseball,” Taillon said. “But as I started falling in love with it, he really started learning about it. He was reading books, watching videos, doing whatever he could to help me.”

Taillon said he is appreciative of all the work Chicago’s catchers and pitching coaches have put in behind the scenes to help him start trending in the right direction again. The pitcher also sees all the messages from his personal circle — his dad included — and wants to show his thanks by continuing to perform well for the Cubs.

“I have a lot of people in my corner,” Taillon said. “I’m not motivated by proving people wrong. I’m more motivated by proving people right that believe in me.”

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