The New York Mets have been searching for starting pitchers to step up in the wake of key injuries to Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, Tylor Megill, and others. And for the most part, their pitching has held up.
But, there is one name that is quietly making a case to represent the Mets on the 2022 National League All-Star squad on July 19 at Dodger Stadium. And it's Taijuan Walker. When Walker signed his two-year pact with the Mets before the 2021 season, there were very few people that had Taijuan Walker as a two-time All-Star as a Met on their bingo cards. And that feat is rather close to reality.
As Taijuan Walker makes the start for the Mets tonight in Cincinnati against the Reds, a good scrutiny for the soon-to-be-30-year-old starter is in the works.
Mets pitcher Taijuan Walker is doing everything he can to keep a rest-deprived pitching staff at rest.
Walker has been outstanding in his last 10 starts dating back to May 12. He is 6-2 with a 2.34 ERA in 61.2 innings pitched, with six quality starts in that span, including his last four. But no start has been better than the one he delievered last week against the vaunted Houston Astros. Up against future Hall-of-Famer pitcher Justin Verlander at the top of his game, Walker pitched 7.1 scoreless innings against an Astros lineup that featured the likes of Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, and Alex Bregman.
For the season, he has a 2.72 ERA and 3.09 FIP in 72.2 innings pitched (he doesn't have enough innings to qualify among the National League leaders, but he'd be 9th in ERA and 8th in FIP). He's only allowed three home runs this season after allowing 26 last year, while opposing hitters have just a .290 on-base and .316 slugging percentages against him for the season. He's averaging 6.4 strikeouts and 2.6 walks per nine innings, both down from last year, but still a 5-to-2 strikeout to walk ratio is solid.
He was an All-Star last year, and he rightfully was when you looked at his first half numbers. (7-3, with a 2.66 ERA with a 3.06 FIP in 94.2 innings last year). His numbers this year are right around those numbers so far, which makes us wonder if he will make the All-Star team.
Taijuan Walker was a name we didn't consider when we started looking at potential All-Stars, but Walker has made a tremendous case over these past four starts, where he has gone 3-0 with a 1.73 ERA and a 1.74 FIP with 27 strikeouts and six walks in 26 innings.
Walker's success has been surprising again because his Statcast rankings are rather pedestrian. So the questions will still linger about whether he can replicate his outstanding first half performance into the second half, something he didn't do last year.