Aug 12, 2021

Taijuan Walker: 2021 Mets All Star Pitcher (2021)

 Taijuan Emmanuel Walker was born August 13th 1992, in Shreveport, Louisiana. The six foot, four right hander preferred basketball until he was 11 years old. By the time he was in high school, he was pitching & playing shortstop in Yucapia, California. He was selected in the first round of the 2010 draft, by the Seattle Mariners.

By 2012, he was the second ranked prospect in the Mariners system & the 20th ranked minor league prospect overall,  pitching in that years' Futures Game in Detroit. 

He pitched in the 2013 Futures Game at Citi Field as well. In 2013, Walker was promoted from
Jackson to AAA Tacoma where he was 5-3 with 3.61 ERA, getting called up to Seattle in late August.

On August 30th, he made his MLB debut, earning a win while pitching five shut out innings against the Astros in Houston. He made two more starts that September, allowing four runs to the Royals & two runs to the Astros.

In 2014 he began the year in the minors, getting back to the big leagues by June, earning a victory in his first game back up. In July he took a pair of losses & was sent back down until September. He pitched as a reliver that month, going 1-1.

In 2015, he had a rough start to the season, having people wonder if he was ready for the big leagues. Walker then 5-1 in June & July, throwing a complete game one hitter on July 31st. The only hit was a HR to Miguel Sano, against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Walker ending up having his best season in Seattle going an overall, 11-8 with a 4.56 ERA, striking out a career high 157 batters in 169 innings of work & 29 starts. He was the number two pitcher to "King Felix" Hernandez.

In 2016 he went on the DL twice with foot injuries, he fell to 8-11 with a 4.22 ERA. On September 13th, he took a no hitter into the 7th inning at Anaheim, finishing up with a three hitter & no walks while striking out 11. Not reaching the potential expected of him, he was traded along with Ketel Marte to the  Arizona Diamondbacks for Zac Curtis, Mitch Haniger & Jean Segura.

In 2017 he went 9-9 with a 3.49 ERA. In 2018 he went on the DL & suffered a UCL tear, requiring
Tommy John surgery. He was out for the rest of 2018 & appeared in the final game of the 2019 season. He signed back with the Mariners in 2020 & was traded to the Blue Jays for a player to be named later. 

Walker went 2-1 with a 1.37 ERA in six games for the Jays in the Covid19 shortened season. After the season he signed as a free agent with the New York Mets.

Mets Career: Walker made his Mets debut on April 8th, in the 4yh game of the season. He earned a no decision pitching six innings allowing two runs against the Marlins. He next allowed a run in 4.1 innings over the Phillies & then two earned in a 3-1 loss at Wrigley Field, to the Cubs.

On April 25th, Walker won his first Mets game, he pitched a seven inning, three hit shut out against the Nats at Citi Field. 

On May 6th, he threw another seven
innings, this time allowing just one hit & an unearned run, in a win over the Cardinals, in St. Louis. He struck out eight, matching his season high at that point.

On May 12th, he beat the Orioles, in a one run, four hitter, lowering his ERA to 2.20. After a three inning outing in Atlanta, where he gave up no runs, he earned his fourth straight winning decision.

 In a 13-2 Mets romp over the Braves at Citi Field, Walker struck out eight once again, allowing no runs in five innings. He now lowered his ERA to 1.84. He was second on the club to Jacob deGrom who's ERA was below one.

On June 3rd, he lost his second Mets decision, it came in San Diego serving up a HR to Fernando Tatis Jr. Walker followed with back to back wins, beating the Orioles at Camden Yards, allowing just one run in seven innings. He struck out a new high , nine batters, while lowering his ERA to 2.07.

On June 15th, he struck out out a season high, 12 batters, in a 3-2 win over the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field, getting his record to 6-2, with an amazing 2.12 ERA.

On June 20th, he had his worst outing to date as a Mer, allowing four runs on ten hits in a 5-2 loss
to the Nats in D.C. In his next start, he pitched the first game of a double header, allowing just a run & striking out five Phillies in a 2-1 Mets win. 

On July 3rd, he beat the A.L. New York team in the opening game of the subway series, allowing two runs on two hits, with 5 Ks in 5.2 innings of work. 

In his last outing of the first half, he learned he was going to the ALL Star game, representing the Mets, after Jacob deGrom  chose not to attend. 

Quotes- Taijuan Walker: "Once I got to the big leagues, it's always been a goal to be an All Star, to be the best & go out there & compete against the best & be around the best players in the league".

The All Star honor, was well deserving for the Mets star pitcher, as even Jacod deGrom agreed. Walker said deGrom is the best pitcher in baseball & it means a lot to him saying he belongs in the All Star game. 

2021 All Star Game:
Walker came in to pitch the 6th inning of the Mis Summer Classic, held in Colorado. He gave up a HR to Mike Zunino, while striking out Whit Merified & retiring the other two batters he faced.
Walker was a pleasant surprise, helping a depleted staff that suffered injuries to Carlos Carrasco, Joe Lucchesi, David Peterson, Robert Gsellman, Jordan Yamamoto, Noah Syndergaard & others.

In the first half of the 2021 season,
Walker helped the first place Mets by going 7-3 with a 2.50 ERA (8th best in the NL), 89 strike outs (a 3.925 strike out to walk ratio- 7th best in the NL) & 30 walks in 90 innings of work in 16 starts. His 0.600 HR per nine innings was 5th best in the league.

After the break Walker, had four of his worst outings, of the year as he & the Mets fell off. On July 18th, he gave up five runs in the 1st innings, at Pittsburgh, the Mets won the game with Walker earning n decision.

On July 24th, he took a loss at Citi Field, serving up six runs to the Toronto Blue Jays, including three HRs, a personal season worst. Next were five runs allowed to the Braves & then four runs given up to the Marlins, both resulting in losses. In those four games he gave up seven HRs, he had only allowed six in all 17 games he pitched, prior.

Family: Taijuan & his wife Heater have two children. Heather was a top basketball player at Washington State High School.

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