Yankees’ Jameson Taillon is ready for biggest start of his career against Blue Jays
Jameson Taillon is not exactly getting eased back in.

BOSTON — Jameson Taillon is not exactly getting eased back in.

The right-hander will come off the injured list Tuesday night and dive into the thick of the playoff race. Though the 29-year-old has never been there in his career, he feels ready for it.

“Boston, going to Toronto and finishing with Tampa, is pretty tough. But that’s how you want it,” Taillon said. “I mean, we can make up ground right in front of us. We can punch our ticket just by taking care of our business. So it’s an opportunity just to go in there, play good baseball, continue what we’ve been doing.

“It’s a good lineup, I’m well aware that obviously,” Taillon continued, “you need to be locked in every pitch, you can’t take any pitches off. Besides that, you just gotta play your game, we got to keep doing what we’ve been doing and it’s kind of right in front of us.”

It’s a huge opportunity for the Yankees and Taillon.

For the Bombers, this series in Toronto — their first trip there since 2019 — is a chance to put away the pesky Blue Jays, who swept them in an embarrassing four-game series in the Bronx earlier this month. They go into Tuesday night’s game at the Rogers Centre in the first American League wild card spot, one game ahead of the Red Sox. The Blue Jays are two games back, but obviously with a chance to make up ground quickly facing the Yankees for three games.

So, this is Taillon’s first chance to contribute to a playoff team.

He is making his first start since Sept. 6, when he suffered a partial tear of a tendon in his right ankle. After a platelet-rich plasma injection and three weeks of some rest, building back up and then testing his ankle in a rehab start for Triple-A Scranton, Taillon feels physically up to the challenge.

“I got to cover first once, I backed up home once and once I got that kind of stuff out of the way, I definitely got a little more confident in it,” Taillon said of his ankle. “The outing finished stronger than it started. So no, [the ankle] wasn’t really on my mind. But definitely waking up the next day and not being swollen or in pain or anything was a good step.

“I feel ready for it. I was able to throw some really aggressive bullpens. I got a lot out of the rehab start.”

He is up for it mentally as well.

“The whole time I’ve been rehabbing and stuff I’ve had these dates targeted,” Taillon said, “and I understood that every game, no matter who it was against down the stretch was going to be huge. So I’ve already kind of had that on my mind now for the past couple of weeks. I knew once I returned, it was going to be in an important situation.

“So every day I played catch, every bullpen I threw, every rep I did in the weight room and stuff I was doing with the intention of it being very important for this team down the stretch. So I feel ready for it.”

In his four years with the Pirates, before being acquired by the Yankees in a trade last winter, Taillon didn’t really pitch in these types of games. In his one season here, he already has been forced into some high-leverage games, but nothing like this.

He has faced the Blue Jays twice already this season, so he knows how dangerous they are. He is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA against them this year. The first time was as he was really struggling to find his way back from 2019 Tommy John surgery. On April 13 he didn’t get out of the fourth inning. His last start, when he injured his ankle, was a more competitive seven-inning start where he gave up three runs.

“So early in the year, I was a bit of a different pitcher, they were a bit of a different lineup. Now I feel like I’m a much better pitcher and in a much better place,” Taillon said. “And I feel like their lineup’s grown. And some of their young guys have taken big steps forward and stuff like that. So it’s gonna be a fun test.

“I look for a couple different things in a scouting report; definitely who’s swinging it well, and who’s hot. That being said, with that lineup, all those guys are dangerous, and they can all get hot at any time. So the goal is just to keep them and keep them at bay.”

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