2. Josh Walker
The Mets’ most copious need heading into spring training is another left-handed pitcher to pair with Brooks Raley. Josh Walker figures to earn an opportunity in spring training given he is the only other option on the 40-man roster. Drafted from Upstate New York in the 37th round of 2017, Walker defied all odds and made his major league debut in May of 2023. Before his promotion, he had spent 5 seasons in the Mets’ minor league system.
Walker was very erratic in 3 separate stints with the big-league club last season. He pitched 10 innings giving up 9 earned runs and 6 walks while striking out 12 batters. Though the statistics are not pretty, Walker did show flashes of talent with a 94.6 MPH fastball and a solid spin rate on his slider. With both of these offerings being projected as above average for a left-handed pitcher, Stearns has kept Walker on the 40-man roster.
Given the Mets’ lack of left-handed relief pitching depth, Walker has a realistic path to joining the opening-day roster. Past teams have started the season with just one left-hander, most notably in 2018 with Jerry Blevins or 2022 with Joely Rodriguez. In retrospect, this was a mistake on the front office’s part as it left the manager with fewer options to mix and match late in games. Taking into consideration the value of Walker’s offerings, Jeremy Hefner will be tasked with getting the 29-year-old reliever assimilated to facing major league talent.