Coming off his excellent start against the Cubs last night, during which he struck out twelve and gave up just two runs in seven innings of work, Taijuan Walker has been one of the best pitchers in baseball so far this season. And with that kind of performance, he’s been an absolutely vital part of the Mets’ success.
Back in April, we took a look at what Walker was doing, and although he had made just two starts at that point, the numbers were very encouraging. And while some of those early returns have come back down to Earth a bit—Walker’s fastball velocity and the whiff rates on some of his pitches aren’t quite as high—the results have remained excellent.
Over his last two starts against the Cubs and Orioles, the latter of which is a bad team but not a bad-hitting team, Walker has racked up 21 strikeouts and issued just one walk while putting up a 1.93 ERA. The strikeout total stands out, but the fact that he’s issued just one walk over those two starts might be the best part of his stats.
Before signing with the Mets, walks were never a major issue for Walker, but in his first month as a Met, he had a 16.1 percent walk rate. But it seems he has rectified that issue, as he posted a 4.9 percent walk rate in May and has a 6.3 percent walk rate so far in June. And while he’s certainly not the only pitcher about whom this can be said, when Walker isn’t walking guys, he’s capable of being a pretty special pitcher.
That shows in Walker’s overall numbers. His 2.12 ERA ranks seventh in all of baseball among starting pitchers, and his 2.76 FIP ranks tenth. And while he hasn’t been quite as consistent at striking out lots of batters in every one of his starts, his strikeout rate is the best single-season one he’s ever had.