ERIE - As good as he's been at keeping teams scoreless so far in Double-A, Jameson Taillon has one area of his game that must improve.
Erie stole five bases in five attempts off Taillon in only five innings Saturday. Furthermore, in his final start of the 2012 season, also at Erie, the SeaWolves were 5-for-5 in steal attempts in six innings.
So in his last two starts, Taillon has allowed 10 stolen bases in only 11 innings.
"It's something I've actually worked on, believe it or not," Taillon said of trying to hold runners close.
Erie did not have a stolen base the first two games of the series, going 0-for-2, then swiped five bases rather easily off Taillon. Catcher Charlie Cutler didn't have much of a chance on any of the runners as they were able to get big jumps.
Pitchers struggling holding runners close and getting hurt by stolen bases has been a major problem at the big league level for the Pirates the past few years, and part of Taillon's minor league development must include improving in that area.
"Definitely we work with him in controlling the running game, but at this point where he is at in the game the main focus should be throw strikes and dominate the inside part of the plate and get guys out," Curve manager Carlos Garcia said.
Saturday was Taillon's 50th start in pro ball, and as he gets closer to the majors, more emphasis will need to be placed on keeping runners close.
"Late in the season we concerned more about controlling the running game," Garcia said of the game plan last year at high-A Bradenton. "Earlier than that the scouting report was there, we know he has a slow delivery to the plate and that allowed the running game to become a factor.
"It's an important part of his game that he has to be able to get better, and we're working on it."
Taillon acknowledged that, too, saying, "Moving forward it's something I'm going to work on."
There are various ways he can do that, and not all of them involve just adding a slide step to his delivery.
"I don't think I'm ever going to slide step like a true slide step just because for me it doesn't allow me to get to my backside, it kind of messes up my timing and whatnot," Taillon said.
"But I've definitely worked on being a little quicker, mixing it up, being quick, being a little slower and mixing your times up, mixing up your picks, mixing up your looks. There's a lot of different weapons you can use for it, and it's just something I need to work on."