It’s not always easy being a middle reliever coming out of the pen early to either protect a lead or with your team down on the scoreboard by a run and having no margin of error to give up any more runs. Especially with elimination from the playoffs staring you in the face.
These scenarios faced the Phillies big 6’5″, 225 lbs., left hander Josh Taylor in his last two appearances, Friday against the Blue Jays and today against the Yankees1 team. Both times he shut down the other team and held them scoreless until his teammates could add on even more runs or come from behind to win the game with playoff ramifications on the line.
Friday, Taylor came in with two on and two out in the bottom of the fourth to induce a ground ball out to second and get out of the jam to protect a 4-2 lead in a game the GCL Phillies would go on to win 8-3 over the Blue Jays. Taylor would pick up his first professional win pitching 4.1 innings of shutout relief.
In today’s game against the first place Yankees1 team Taylor came on again out of the pen with the Phillies this time trailing 1-0 after five strong innings by starter Jason Zgardowski marred only by a solo home run.
Taylor would shut them down for the next three innings with the Phillies still down 1-0 with only three outs left in the game for them to score. Finally the bats woke up and the Phillies pushed across three runs to take a 3-1 lead going into the bottom of the ninth.
Out came Taylor for the bottom of the ninth and he would get two strikeouts swinging after giving up a lead off single. For the final out and his second win in five days he got a Yankee to line out to Carlos Duran to end the game for a 3-1 win.
His two outings resulting in his two wins have been season savers so far for the GCL Phillies. Losing either one would have meant likely playoff elimination. With two games to play in a home and home series with the Pirates, the Phillies trail the Yankees1 team by a game and still have a chance for the post season.
Just who is this Josh Taylor guy anyhow? We know from watching him he throws a fast ball in the low to mid 90’s and has a nice tilt on his curve ball. He has stuck out 13 in his three appearances over the last eight days, giving up no runs. He has allowed only five hits and four walks in 9.1 innings for a WHIP under one since being signed as a free agent by the Phillies. Not bad for his first week as a professional baseball pitcher.
As the late great Richie Ashburn might have said “hard to believe Harry” this guy was not drafted in any of the 40 rounds by the 30 major league teams in the June draft.
On Friday at the Blue Jays minor league complex I watched Taylor pitch under the eye of Chief Amateur Scout Marti Wolever who was at the game. See Josh pitch in the eight inning of that game in video from an August 24th blog. In Taylor’s case he has to be one of the Phillies best signing from their tryout camps. So let’s get to know him a little better:
Josh was signed as a free agent out of Georgia College and according to their website he spent two seasons at Scottsdale Community College (Ariz.), where he played for head coach Alex Cherney … The Artichokes went 39-21 his sophomore season, playing in the NJCAA World Series back-to-back.
High School: Graduated from Centennial High in Peoria, Ariz., where he played for head coach Jason Nuttall … Earned team’s Cy Young three times and MVP once.
Personal: Majoring in exercise science with a minor in physical education … Son of John and Susan Taylor … Born March 2 … Favorite athlete is Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks … Ringtone is “Redneck Crazy” … His biggest sports thrill was going to the JuCo World Series back-to-back years … Lists failing as the thing that scares him the most … Favorite song is “Redneck Crazy”, movie is Pineapple Express and TV show is Family Guy … Lives by the motto: “It’s better to give all that you have and fail than to not, and wonder what if.”