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NY Mets: Mr. Hyde has taken over Taijuan Walker in the second half

Sep 5, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Taijuan Walker #99 reacts after a pitch against the Washington Nationals during the first inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 5, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Taijuan Walker #99 reacts after a pitch against the Washington Nationals during the first inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
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Now ten starts into his 2021 second half, New York Mets pitcher Taijuan Walker has taken a turn for the worst. He was the team’s lone representative in the All-Star Game and you would never know it while watching his second-half performance.

Walker is 0-6 with a 7.38 ERA. He has given up 17 home runs compared to the 6 surrendered in the first half of the season.

Worth noting, this doesn’t even include his one relief appearance where he gave up 3 earned runs in 4.2 innings of work. Because this was a continuation of the April 11th game that was suspended until August 31, the statistics technically count toward the first half of the year.

The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde season for Mets pitcher Taijuan Walker raises questions for his future

To his credit, Walker rose up and took on a much bigger role for the Mets in 2021 than originally expected. The team signed him this winter to be their number four or five. A preseason injury to Carlos Carrasco elevated Walker immediately and gave him more responsibility for the season ahead.

Walker passed all of the tests with flying colors. He had a well-deserved first trip to the All-Star Game. Unfortunately, it has been all downhill ever since.

We had all figured Walker would be a good number three or four starter for the Mets next year. I don’t think this necessarily changes except the team may need to rethink exactly where he slots in. Walker’s overall season has not preserved itself well. Now 7-9 with a 4.29 ERA in 144.2 innings pitched, Walker’s breakout season is looking far more average.

The Mets have some major offseason decisions to make. Notably, what do they do with pending free agents Marcus Stroman and Noah Syndergaard?

Carrasco’s delayed debut followed by his underwhelming performance adds itself into the mix as to what the team should and will do. Walker, even if he is a guy posting an ERA around 4.30, is a definite piece to move forward with. However, it’s feeling far less awesome than it did only a few months ago.

Walker’s workload may have played a big factor in his sudden decline. Coming into this year, he had only gone more than 100 innings three times before. Perhaps more important is how little he pitched since last reaching 100 (157.1 to be specific) back in 2017. From 2018-2020, Walked logged only 67.1 innings of work—53.1 of them last year alone.

In such a long baseball season, how a player or team finishes are just as important as they begin. Walker is finishing his first year in New York with a whimper.

Next. Which Mets will get a qualifying offer?

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Throughout the first half, it was the pitching performance from guys like Walker that allowed the Mets to find their way into first place and stay there. In the latter part of the season, small performances from them have led to a landslide. The offense never figured it out this year. As a result, every even slightly below outing is death to the Mets. Walker has delivered plenty of those death strokes in the season’s conclusion.

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