Taijuan Walker was a last-resort type of signing for the New York Mets. Long focused on landing star pitcher Trevor Bauer, he was sort of a plan B when the ace, currently out for legal reasons and a pending investigation, signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
But the 29-year-old Walker was a good pitcher for the Mets in 2021, even if his performance dipped considerably in the second half. His 7-11 record and 4.47 ERA (as of Thursday afternoon) are a bit misleading: he was an All-Star selection (and deservedly so), and had a solid 1.18 WHIP.
â€œMe personally, I thought it was a really good season,â€ Walker said, per SNY. â€œI know the numbers donâ€™t look good, especially in the second half, but to be where I was the last three years and make 29 starts, 30 games total, and throw I think 160 innings [159.0 to be exact], I would say thatâ€™s a win.
â€œObviously, we want to make the playoffs, we want to go deep into the playoffs and win a World Series, but I felt really good about my season. The training staff did a really good job of keeping me healthy and just working with me making sure I was able to go out there every fifth day.â€
The Mets were able to keep him in one piece
Health, indeed, was a crucial part of his success. The Mets were able to have him on the mound for 159 innings, which qualifies as a win after injuries derailed his 2018 and 2019 campaigns.
The offseason will be active for the Mets as they try to fill out their rotation amid significant turnover. Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman are going to be free agents, but Walker remains under contract and is expected to be one of the five starting pitchers in 2022.
As for goals, Walker wants one thing: â€œJust be consistent throughout the whole year,â€ he said. â€œNext year, I plan on going 180-plus innings over 30 starts, but being consistent with it, try to go deep into games every time out.”