Why the Mets can trust Taijuan Walker more
Walker did prove himself in the first half of the 2021 season. He was terrific and if not for such a horrible second half, I think we would all feel a bit more confident in him right now. But because he was so amazingly bad, there are questions.
Walker has had a low-key quality career in parts of nine big league seasons. His 3.97 ERA is not outstanding but it’s only slightly higher than what Carrasco has done.
Now 29, Walker is on the right side of 30 to fully bloom a little late and maybe find his best stuff on the mound. His career up until this point has been derailed due to several major injuries and when he has been healthy, Walker has not finished with an ERA worse than 4.56. I know this isn’t what Mets fans want to see. However, given his age and promise he has always had, the 2022 campaign could be the year he puts it all together.
Why the Mets shouldn’t trust Taijuan Walker much in 2022
Injuries are impossible to prevent and for a guy who has been around in the big leagues in some capacity since 2013, it’s pretty amazing that Walker has yet to exceed 170 innings. The coming season is an important one where he can establish himself. His contract with the Mets is only guaranteed through next season with a player option in 2023 worth $6 million and a $3 million buyout.
Walker has yet to have that excellent season on the mound for a full year. His best season is kind of hard to pick out. Is it the 9-9 with a 3.49 ERA campaign he had back in 2017? Or was Walker’s best performance what he did in the shortened 2020 season when he was 4-3 with a 2.70 ERA in 11 starts? A small sample size tells us it’s not this.
On the plus side, Walker is about the same age as Carrasco was when he turned things around.
Both of these pitchers will have a lot to prove in 2022. The team might be able to get away with one playing poorly. If both go bust again, it could be a devastatingly long year.