Taijuan Walker earned every penny of his two-year, $20 million dollar deal he inked with the Mets in February. The 6-foot-4 Walker was dominant for 6 innings in his Citifield debut.
— MLBbro.com (@MLBbrodotcom) April 8, 2021
He didn’t get the decision, but his energy and quality start paced the Mets to a controversial walk-off win in their home opener.
The lights are always brighter in New York, especially when fans haven’t seen baseball live since 2019 when Walker’s teammate and fellow MLB Bro Dominic Smith hit a walk-off homer in the team’s season finale.
The 28-year-old native of Shreveport, Louisiana wasted no time as he attacked the zone from the first pitch. He threw three fastballs at 96, 96, and 97 to strike out the leadoff batter on consecutive pitches. He then fielded a comebacker and picked off Starling Marte after walking him.
You knew from the gitty that he didn’t lace up cleats this morning to mess around.
Walker went 4 ⅓ innings without allowing a hit in his first game in a Mets uniform. It was the second-longest a Mets pitcher has gone without allowing a hit in their team debut. He finished his day going six innings, striking out four and allowing four hits.
He had a 1-0 lead for a majority of the game but ended up giving up two runs in the 6th, putting him in line for the loss. His teammate Jeff McNeil hit a 9th inning home run to get Walker off the hook. The Mets ended up winning the game with a walk-off, hit-by-pitch with the bases loaded.
The former 43rd pick of the 2010 draft has bounced around a few times in his young career, but the team remains excited by his potential. He began in Seattle and was sent to the Diamondbacks in 2016. After having Tommy John surgery, he ended up back with Seattle for a second time before being traded to the Blue Jays last season.
Walker became a key part of a rotation that bolstered a late Blue Jays playoff push in the American League last season. He had a 1.37 ERA in six games with Toronto striking out 25 in over 26 innings pitched, easily the best stretch of his career.
Walker is a part of only two pitching rotations with multiple black starters in the Major Leagues, the other being his former team the Seattle Mariners (Justus Sheffield & Justin Dunn).
Walker and No. 2 starter Marcus Stroman have been lights out in consecutive wins for the Mets. They have combined to go 12 innings allowing 3 runs and striking out 7.
It looks like Walker is ready to piggyback off his strong 2020 campaign and be a golden-armed force in the Mets owner’s promise to bring a World Series Championship back to the city.