Walker Lockett was acquired in early 2019 as the “prize” of the Kevin Plawecki trade with Cleveland. He was brought in to serve as starting pitching depth last year, but the depth he provided was not quality. As Maggie Wiggin so eloquently put it, his 2019 season was about as memorable as his first name, as Walker—not Walter—posted an unsightly 8.34 ERA and 6.17 FIP in just 22.1 innings pitched for the big league club.
The outlook for Lockett in 2020 is basically the same as it was in 2019: He can eat innings in Triple-A and can get International League hitters out but shouldn’t be relied on for anything more than a random spot start or some mop-up innings at the major-league level. That’s the role he served for the Mets last year, it’s the role he served for the Padres in 2018, and it’s the role he should serve once again this year.
The 25-year-old sinkerballer does not bring much upside to the table, sporting an above-average changeup and curveball but below-average velocity and command. He is the type of organizational guy that every team has and the Mets have too many of. It’s possible he could put up a few dozen quality major league innings in a pinch, but nothing he has shown at the big league level so far has proven that it’s a serious possibility. And he’s a heavy ground ball pitcher who would be pitching in front of an infield defense that struggled in 2019.
Unfortunately, the Mets still don’t have much in the way of starting pitching depth, so Lockett could see more innings this year than he really should. Currently, Lockett figures to be the 7th starter on the depth chart behind Michael Wacha—unless the Mets were to move Robert Gsellman or Seth Lugo to the rotation before dipping into their minors depth. And he probably isn’t far back on the depth chart for relief innings, either. So we will likely see Lockett in the big leagues at some point this year, but if he starts pitching too many meaningful innings, something has probably gone wrong.