Taijuan Walker: Former Mets Pitcher (2021 -2022)

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 Yucaipa, 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. That year, Walker was promoted from AA 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 shutout against the Nat's 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 whose 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 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 Nat's 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 Jacob 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. 

In the first half of the season, Walker was a pleasant surprise, helping a depleted pitching staff that suffered injuries to Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Carlos Carrasco, Joey Lucchesi, David Peterson, Robert Gsellman & Jordan Yamamoto.

Walker helped the Mets stay in first place 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.

2021 All Star Game: Walker came in to pitch the top of the 6th inning of the Mid-Summer Classic, held in Colorado. He got his first two outs including a strike out of Whit Merrifield, but then gave up a HR to Tampa's Mike Zunino before getting the third out.

After the break Walker, had four of his worst outings, of the year. As he fell off so did the Mets. On July 18th, he gave up five runs in the 1st innings, at Pittsburgh, although 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. He allowed three HRs, a personal season worst.  But he would serve up three HRs again on August 8th in Philadelphia & then again on the September subway series.

 The night before his August 8th loss in Philadelphia, the Mets fell out of first place & never recovered. They went 2-31 the rest of the way as it all fell apart & things hit rock bottom.

Overall, in the second half of the season he went 0-8 with a 7.13 ERA. He allowed five earned runs or more five times in the second half & four earned runs or more six times. He ended the year at 7-11 with a 4.47 ERA making 29 starts with 146 Ks & 55 walks in 159 innings of work in 29 starts.

2022 Wild Card season: In the off season the Mets made major improvements all around. For the pitching staff,
they brought in one of the game's best in Max Scherzer & Oakland All Star, Chris Bassitt. 

There was plenty of questions on which Taijuan Walker the Mets would see in 2022, the one from the first half or second half of 2021?

As the Mets season began, they went into first place with a much-improved team. But Jacob deGrom was down for the whole first half, Scherzer would go down for a good six weeks, Tylor Megill who stepped in to go 4-0 went down as well.

In April, Walker made just two starts, his fist one only went two innings until he left the game with shoulder irritation. He was sidelined for almost three weeks returning at the end of the month. 

Carlos Carrasco, Chris Bassitt & Walker stepped it up & were fantastic. After his worst start of the year on May 5th where he gave up seven runs (six earned) things got better. Starting on May 12th, Walker would win his first three starts. That night he shut out the Nationals in D.C. for seven innings allowing just three hits. 

On May 22nd, he shut out the Rockies in Colorado for seven innings, while striking out six & allowing just five hits. On May 28th he won a big game in Philadelphia to get to 3-0, as the Mets took a 9.5 game lead over the Phillies.

On June 2nd, he lost a 2-0 heartbreaker in Los Angeles, allowing just two runs in seven innings to the Dodgers, as Tony Gonsolin beat the Mets to get to 6-0. On that same road trip he gave up four runs in San Diego, taking his second loss as the Mets were shut out 7-0 by Yu Darvish for seven innings.

After that Walker won his next four decisions, including three straight games. On June 12th, he struck out a season high ten batters while beating the Angels in Los Angeles, allowing just a run in six innings while walking just one.

In his next start on June 18th at Citi Field against the Marlins, he followed up with nine strike outs & pitched into the 7th inning, giving up a run on only two hits & a walk. Walker lowered his ERA to 2.88 from 4.91 on May 5th.

On Friday June 24th, centerfieldmaz was on hand in South Florida as Walker & the Mets beat the Marlins 5-3. It wasn't his best outing as he gave up three runs in six innings, but the offense supported him beating Sandy Alcantara, highlighted by HRs from Francisco Lindor & Mark Cahana. Lindor added a bases loaded double that scored all three runners in the win.

On June 29th he continued his fine pitching, shutting out a mighty Astros team in Houston for7.1 innings. He only allowed four hits & took no decision, as the Mets were shut out by veteran Justin Verlander in the 2-0 loss.

On July 4th, in Cincinnati he earned his 7th win of the year, he did allow three runs & his first HR
since June 7th, but he struck out nine & overall only gave up four hits. Brandon Nimmo's three run HR led the way, as Francisco Lindor also homered.

On July 10th, the Marlins Sandy Alcantara shut out the Mets for seven innings, then three Marlin relievers finished the job. Walker held his own in a pitcher's duel with Alcantara shutting the Marlins out for seven innings as well. He left the game scoreless, but the Mets lost the game in extra innings 2-0.

On July 16th, he went at it against his former teammate Marcus Stroman in Chicago. Both pitchers allowing just a run, with Walker going six innings. He gave up four hits, struck out five & walked two. He earned another no decision as the Mets won it in extra innings on Pete Alonso's sac fly.

At the All-Star break Walker was 7-2 with a 2.55 ERA, he had 73 strike outs in 91.2 innings with 25 walks in 16 starts. Walker had the best winning percentage (778%) on the staff in the first half. 

He was tied with Chris Bassitt for second most wins on the staff & was second to Max Scherzer in ERA. Although worthy of inclusion for the NL All Star team, he was not chosen for the game. 

After the break he beat the AL New York team, in the subway series sweep, led by HRs from Starling Marte & Eduardo Escobar. On July 31st in Miami, he earned his 9th win of the year, giving up three runs on seven hits in 5.2 innings. The Mets scored nine runs for him in that game.

On August 5th, he made a start in one the biggest games of the year as the Mets took on the second place Braves holding a 4.5 game lead over Atlanta. 

In the 1st inning he caught his spike on the mound, lost his balance & never regained form. He ended up giving up eight runs, two HRs on seven hits in one inning of work in the Mets 9-6 loss.

On August 10th he returned to beat the Reds at Citi Field, allowing two runs on six hits with five strike outs. He got to his 10th win of the year (10-2) with a 3.43 ERA.

Quotes- Manager Buck Schowalter: "He's had a competitive gleam in his eye since the day he walked into St. Lucie. Tai really wants to be a contributor to a really good club".

On August 16th he left the game after two innings with back spasms. He returned seven days later & pitched five innings of the subway series allowing a HR to Aaron Judge in the loss. 

After a loss to the Pirates in Pittsburgh he had a strong outing in South Florida, allowing just a
run in seven innings of work, while striking out five. On September 16th he earned what was his final Mets victory, beating the Pirates at Citi Field to get to 12-5.

He missed a week of action then returned for a no decision in South Florida as the Mets remained a game ahead of the Braves. His final start came in the next to last game of the season with the Mets now one game out of first place after a bad series in Atlanta. Walker pitched 4.1 innings shutting out the Nationals & struck out ten, as he Steven Nogosek & Tylor Megill combined for an 8-0 shut out. Although they tied the Braves with the best NL Record, they were ranked second due to head-to-head regular season play.

2022 Post Season: Walker was left off the post season roster after throwing 81 pitches in his final start. He then replaced Joley Rodriuez when he was sidelined with shoulder issues. He did not pitch in the NLWC Series loss to the Padres.

Post Mets Career: Walker was granted free agency & chose to part ways, signing a four deal with the NL Champion Philadelphia Phillies. He went 4-2 in the first two months of the season as the Phils found themselves eight games back in fourth place.  Starting on June 1st he won six straight games for the Phillies & opponents were only batting .192 against him in that period. 

All Star: Walker was selected to the NL All tar tam but declined as he had planned to spend time with his family during the break. Thru the first half of the season he was 10-3 with a 4.03 ERA.

Family: Taijuan & his wife Heater were married in December of 2016. They have two children. Heather Restrepo was a top basketball player at Washington State High School.


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