Can Josh Taylor Regain His Rookie Form?by Jamie Gatlin December 14, 2020 0 comments
Through two major league seasons, Josh Taylor has had his share of ups and downs. As a rookie, Taylor became a crucial part of a bullpen that struggled. In 2020 Taylor’s career went the opposite direction due to injuries and inconsistency. As the lefty enters his third season, his career is at a crossroads as the Red Sox try to return to the postseason. For Taylor, 2021 will be about finding what made him successful in 2019.
As a rookie, Taylor made 52 appearances and posted a 3.04 ERA. Although the 2019 season was a disappointment, Taylor was one of the few positives. The Phoenix native was also able to hold opponents to a .229 average and only allowed two home runs. As a result, Taylor entered 2020 as one of Boston’s most trusted relievers.
Additionally, 2020 turned out to be a disaster in more ways than one for Taylor. The Red Sox reliever only appeared in eight games but posted a 9.82 ERA, which was the highest of any Red Sox pitcher. In 7.1 innings of work, he gave up eight runs and only struck out seven batters. After being one of Boston’s most reliable arms, Taylor gave up more than one run in nearly half of his appearances.
Red Sox left-hander Josh Taylor threw two innings of live batting practice in Pawtucket today. Stuff looked good and he made quick work of the minor league hitters. Here are a couple of pitches to Jeter Downs, @SoxProspects number two prospect. pic.twitter.com/bMJHrnDwWV
— Ian Cundall (@IanCundall) July 31, 2020
Despite Taylor’s struggles, he did flash some of his rookie form. While his ERA skyrocketed, batters only hit .233 against him. In Taylors final five appearances, he had a scoreless line in all but one. Although Taylor’s final numbers were one of the club’s worst, his final five appearances showed that he could still be successful at the major league level.
What Taylor Needs to do
In order to repeat his rookie season Taylor will need to focus on his control. In a season defined by injuries and inconsistency, Taylor walked at least one batter in five of his eight appearances. As a rookie, Taylor issued 16 free passes but was able to work around it. His strikeout rate also dropped in 2020, which could partly be due to not having a full Spring Training.
With the start of the season only months away, Taylor will be looking to prove that his rookie season was no fluke. Unlike 2020, Taylor will hopefully be able to go through a full Spring Training. The Red Sox reliever will also have a familiar voice in Alex Cora leading the way. If Taylor can stay healthy and improve his control, then his rookie form should return. For the Red Sox, that would be a welcoming return for a pitching staff in need of help and consistency.
Follow Jamie Gatlin On Twitter @JamieGatlin17
Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images