Will Mets pitcher Taijuan Walker rebound?
Contractually, Walker has a lot more on the line than McCann. McCann is signed for three more years. Walker has a player option after the 2022 season so he’s going to need to perform well if he wants to waive it and test free agency again.
Another difficult player to predict, Walker’s career has been derailed by injuries numerous times. Prior to his 159 innings in 2021, you have to travel all the way back to 2017 to find a year where he was able to top 100.
The issue walk seemed to run into last year was a lack of gas in the second half. How can someone pitch so phenomenally consistent through mid-July only to look so out of his element in the final two and a half months? Unless he was hiding an injury, there’s no reasonable explanation.
Unlike McCann, we did see Walker perform well over a lengthy period of time. McCann was never on pace to be an All-Star. Walker was and did accomplish the feat for the first time in his career even if it’s now his worst ERA season.
Nothing in particular seemed to kill Walker’s season. His WHIP, hits per nine, and strikeouts per nine rates were all better than his career averages. He didn’t walk too many more batters than he usually has and while his home runs were up, the 1.5 per nine rate was only slightly more than his career total of 1.3.
For Walker to rebound, he’s going to first need us to reassess our expectations of him. His 2021 first half raised them to a new height. This season, we need to readjust and hope he meets his career 162 game average of a 10-11 record and 3.97 ERA.
Getting through the whole year with some consistency is what Walker needs most. The Mets don’t need the brilliance he had heading into the All-Star Break. They just need him to be a very good back-of-the-rotation arm.
So who is more likely to rebound this year? I'd guess Walker is more capable of having an awesome year while McCann, at best, is back to his averages.