Taijuan Walker is on pace for a career-low ERA through the first 10 starts this season. Last year’s only Black pitcher to make the All-Star team continually flies under the radar as one of the most solid arms in the Majors.
This past Sunday, Walker struck out a season-high 10 batters in six innings, allowing just one earned run on six hits in his best start of the 2022 season.
#OTD in 2021, Taijuan Walker struck out 12 Cubs without allowing a walk on 92 pitches in the Mets' 3-2 win.
— Mathew Brownstein (@MBrownstein89) June 15, 2022
Those 10 strikeouts were the most he’s had since June 15th of last season. He sat down 12 Cubs on only 92 pitches, becoming the first Met with at least a dozen strikeouts and no walk on less than 95 pitches since 2013.
Quietly, Walker’s 4-2 record and 3.08 ERA would put him in the top 15 in the National League but he’s one start shy of qualifying for rankings.
His ERA number is great, but it could be better if not for one outlier start. On Cinco De Mayo, Walker gave up seven runs, six of them earned, on just two strikeouts in four innings against their divisional rival Philadelphia Phillies.
Without his May 5th start, Walker’s earned run average would be at an outstanding 2.44, good for fifth in the National League, even better than the 2.50 he had around this time last season when he was selected to the All-Star team for the first time in his career.
The Mets most recent road trip was a great benchmark for Walker to gauge the first half of this season. During their west coast road trip to California, he started three games – is rare to see for a pitcher to do in this age of protecting arms and player management.
He faced two of the upper echelon teams, the Dodgers and Padres, in addition to that career day he had against the Angels.
Taijuan Walker on starting 3 times in the same road trip:
"I wanted it. I wanted the task. I wanted to face the 3 best teams and go out there and show what I can do." pic.twitter.com/MgGBHWzvSH
— SNY (@SNYtv) June 13, 2022
Although he went 1-2, his ability to stem the tide and navigate through some of the best lineups in baseball is a great sight for Mets fans.
Walker signed a two-year, $20 million deal with the Mets in February 2021. Judging by what Walker has brought to the table, that may be the best free agent signing out of any team in baseball since then.
Taijuan Walker figured out the way to keep Brandon Marsh off the bases: you pick him off. pic.twitter.com/0sihFBMkMC
— Metsmerized Online (@Metsmerized) June 13, 2022
As is the case every season, the Mets have continually dealt with injuries to their starting rotation. Last season Cy Young award winner Jacob DeGrom and Carlos Carrasco missed most of the year and now this year World Series champion Max Scherzer joined DeGrom on the Injured List after dealing with hip issues.
However, through that cloud of dust and uncertainty, Walker has been one of the most reliable arms for the Mets.
With those top guys out and last season’s MLB leader in starts Marcus Stroman gone, Walker – along with free agent acquisition Chris Bassitt – are going to be asked to help carry the rotation. New York has its eyes on not just a playoff berth, but also championship pennants.
The next start for Taijuan Walker is scheduled for this coming Saturday where he will welcome the one of the best baseball players under the age of 25, Jazz Chisholm Jr. and the Miami Marlins to Citi Field.