Taijuan Walker couldn’t have had two more different halves in 2021. In his first year with the New York Mets, he was an All-Star who went into the break with a 7-3 record and 2.66 ERA. Jolly good!
Things suddenly took a turn for the worst in the second half when he got knocked around for 5 earned runs in only a third of an inning. This occurred immediately in his first start of the second half. From there, he would go on to finish 7-11 with a 4.47 ERA on the season.
Although the Mets would eventually win this horrible start out of the break, they would only win one more game that he started—a September 5th shellacking at the bats of the Washington Nationals where the orange and blue did some damage of their own. Walker is one of the guys the Mets need to be better in 2022. We should all expect him to be, too.
Why we should expect Mets pitcher Taijuan Walker to be better in 2022
Walker’s second half ruined a lot of the trust we had in him. However, he did manage to do a few things right.
Despite the losing streak and the enormous number of home runs he seemed to give up, Walker did deliver four quality starts and a few other not so bad outings, too. His biggest problem was how awful he was when he wasn’t on his game. Retiring one Pittsburgh Pirates batter plus a few other appearances did a lot of damage to his ERA. In most starts, however, he was just bad and not unwatchable.
In August, Walker held his own for two starts against the Los Angeles Dodgers and one versus the San Francisco Giants. Although he would go 0-2 in those starts, he pitched 6 innings or more in each and never gave up more than 4 earned runs. In fact, his 6.2 innings performance against the Dodgers included only a single earned run. This was a no-decision the team would lose by a score of 2-1.
Walker was brilliant early on in the season, doing almost exactly the opposite of what he would do later on. Evened out, the year wasn’t a very good one. An ERA approaching 4.50 is what you want from a fifth starter on an average team. The Mets were hoping for far more out of him yet nothing quite like what he did in the first few months of the year. He was pitching well above his paygrade and even the most optimistic of expectations.
Fortunately, he was able to overcome the biggest challenge of his career and give the Mets 159 innings. It was the second-most of his career and his first time getting to 100+ since 2017.
Now with that out of the way, we should expect Walker to at least be a little more prepared for the haul of an MLB season. Staying healthy will remain a challenge. It’s still a strike against him and something I'm not quite confident he'll ever be able to fully over