Taijuan Walker: Sometime It All Comes Together When You Least Expect It

Taijuan Walker: Mets All Star (Newsday)

Traded twice, Taijuan Walker’s 42-37 career record when the Mets decided to take a flyer on him was gauged as a risk. He’s In Denver today.

Taijuan Walker, when Spotrac initially released its rankings of 2021 free-agent starting pitchers, while ranked number three behind Trevor Bauer and Jake Odorizzi, remained in the background as Bauer seized the headlines.

With a new team on board, though, Sandy Alderson, at the time the Mets everything, knew he was looking for a diamond in the rough, and even with Steve Cohen’s billions behind him, the Mets said, “No, thank you” to Bauer.

Taijuan Walker, Lifting the Mets (amazinavenue.com)
Taijuan Walker, Lifting the Mets (amazinavenue.com)

As the offseason dragged on, Mets fans, anticipating something “big” after years of the penny-pinching and false starts seen under the Wilpons and Bodie VanVagenen, grew restless.

So, when on February 20, 2021 – two weeks before the start of Spring Training – the Mets announced they had signed Taijuan Walker, a huge ho-hum could be heard.

Taijuan Walker: A Diamond In The Rough

Now, if you ask the Mets today if they expected Taijuan Walker to be an All-Star who would make sixteen starts for them while putting up a 7-3, W-L record with a 2.50 ERA, they’d be hard-pressed to say, “We told you so” without a smile.

But that’s the way it works in baseball sometimes, and when you look at the misfortunes of Trevor Bauer (still awaiting action by Orange County police for (allegedly) sexual abuse during an encounter with a female), and Jake Odorizzi laboring with a 3-4, 3.61 ERA season for the Houston Astros, there but for fortune go the Mets.

Speaking to the media on Monday at Coors Field, Taijuan Walker’s emotion spilled out:

“A little bit on the plane honestly, we were flying in and I was talking to my family, I’ve watched this All-Star Game for probably 15-plus-years now, and to finally be in it is crazy to me,” Walker said. “I got a little choked up talking about it. I just want to soak it all in. I want to enjoy being around the best of the best.

A lot of these guys I’ve played against, a lot of guys I know. Just to play alongside them and go out there and be on the field to compete against the best, I’m gonna soak it all in.” Collin Martin, Yahoo Sports

Taijuan Walker: An Endorsement From A Baseball God

Walker’s selection to the 2021 All-Star team was predicated by an endorsement from Jacob deGrom, who bowed out of the festivities, choosing instead to spend the time with his family.

Major League Baseball (MLB) was under no rule saying they had to name a New York Met player to replace deGrom, but to their credit, they did the “right thing” in naming Taijuan Walker.

Walker may or may not appear in tonight’s game (telecast at 8 PM ET on FOX), but the fact he’s “there” is what counts.

Mets Need A Complete Season From Taijuan Walker

In baseball, as we know, all that matters is what you do today and tomorrow.

While the Mets continue to hold off all challengers in the NL East standings, they deal with a rotation with several holes.

Joey Lucchesi is lost for the season, together with Carlos Carrasco‘s off-and-on rehab, David Peterson‘s oblique, which is expected to keep him idle until (at least) the middle of August, – and finally the very iffy return of Noah Syndergaard – Taijuan Walker has to be the same pitcher he’s been in the second half.

Additionally, the Mets need more consistency from Marcus Stroman, who is pitching in his walk-year before becoming a free agent after the World Series.

In the meantime, Acting Mets GM Zack Scott is working the phones, and while there are other holes to fill, nailing a proven major league starter has to be on his radar.

But if we go strictly by Taijuan Walker’s demeanor and confidence we’ve seen from him on the mound, barring injury (always the caveat), the Mets are in good hands…

Closing Thoughts

No need to post comments on this one – Mets fans love this guy!

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Steve Contursi
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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.