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Mets pitcher Walker Lockett has plenty to prove beyond start on Thursday

PORT ST. LUCIE, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 23: Walker Lockett #61 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves during the Grapefruit League spring training game at First Data Field on February 23, 2019 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
PORT ST. LUCIE, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 23: Walker Lockett #61 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves during the Grapefruit League spring training game at First Data Field on February 23, 2019 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Walker Lockett will make his New York Mets debut on Thursday versus the Chicago Cubs. Even if he pitches well in this outing, he’ll have a lot more to prove if he wants to keep a big league job.

The New York Mets have turned to Walker Lockett to start in place of Noah Syndergaard in Thursday’s game against the Chicago Cubs. The 25-year-old will make his Mets debut for a squad struggling to keep its head above water—if it hasn’t already sunken below. Since the announcement, many fans asked themselves, who is Walker Lockett and why is he here?

Lockett looks like a last-resort option for the Amazins. I understand they aren’t going with Wilmer Font. His effectiveness in the bullpen is something to leave alone.

Still, Lockett lacks the track-record you want from a big league pitcher. Acquired in the offseason in the Kevin Plawecki trade with the Cleveland Indians, the righty has been mostly bad since becoming a professional baseball player back in 2012. His 2.96 ERA in 2016 combined at multiple levels of the minor leagues stands out significantly as the lone successful complete season. In his other full seasons, he had an ERA in the 4.00s.

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As far as major league experience goes, we only have 15 innings to look at. In those frames, Lockett lost all three starts he made and pitched in relief during another where he gave up 2 earned runs in as many innings.

Beyond his major league numbers, there is some consistency in the minor leagues. Lockett tends to pitch to contact, delivering low strikeout numbers but pitching with solid control. In spite of having the first name Walker, he rarely issues ball four.

He’s not one of those kids who walks a million batters. He throws strikes. Unfortunately, far too many of them are getting hit.

I don’t think many Mets fans have high expectations for Lockett in this start or beyond. We’ve been surprised before. One decent outing could put his name on the long list of bullpen options going forward.

Lockett had pitched well on the farm this year, going 1-1 in 5 starts and a relief appearance combined at Triple-A and Single-A. His 3.28 ERA at Triple-A alone is certainly tempting. Compared to what other starting pitchers have done on the farm this year, he’s having a productive year in the short sample provided.

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To answer the question “who is Walker Lockett and why is he here?” it’s simple. He’s just the next man in a long line of pitchers the orange and blue are taking a look at.

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