A sleeper candidate who could get more innings than expected in 2023

Mar 19, 2022; West Palm Beach, Florida, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Josh Walker (91)
Mar 19, 2022; West Palm Beach, Florida, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Josh Walker (91) / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

It’s easy to dismiss 28-year-old pitchers who have yet to make their MLB debut. Something about New York Mets minor leaguer Josh Walker suggests the team could have plans for him.

Until 2022, Walker was working primarily as a starting pitcher on the farm. He rose quickly in 2021 with some promising numbers before turning in some less-than-fantastic totals in the most recent season. There was a difference, though. Walker made a transition from starter to reliever. The Mets even sent him to represent them in the Arizona Fall League to get a few more innings of relief work.

The sample size as a reliever thus far has been minimal. However, a rate of 15.5 strikeouts per 9 in 22 total innings for the Mets on the farm last season is notable enough to catch our attention. The former 37th round draft pick from 2017 has made it this far. Can he take one final step and actually become a candidate to get some big league innings in 2023?

What Josh Walker has going for him that other Mets relievers don’t

A part of Walker’s anatomy makes him an important asset. Walker throws left-handed and we know how valuable those are in baseball. Even if it’s just to find a spot on the roster for a week while someone else is hurt or their arm is dead and a fresh shoulder is needed, Walker is someone to keep an eye on.

The fact that the Mets sent him to the AFL this fall is not something to overlook. If they had no intentions on making him an option, someone else would have gotten the chance.

Walker isn’t on the 40-man roster at the moment nor should the Mets be in any rush to DFA someone else to make room. This year is a chance for Walker to eat up innings in relief and become an actual option for the ball club later on in the year.

Walker missed a large portion of the 2022 season due to an injury early on. It may have been one of those blessings in disguise everyone seems to talk about. It may have been enough to convince the decision-makers to move him from a starter to reliever. It was the most realistic chance he would ever have at landing significant big league innings. This year might be his final chance at a professional gig. As much as he needs things to go well, so do the Mets.

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