The last news on Taijuan Walker is from March 9th. The Seattle Times reported, “Walker pitched three innings, allowing one run on four hits with no walks and four strikeouts Monday in Milwaukee’s 2-1 victory. He threw 43 pitches with 28 strikes – featuring a fastball that sat at 93 to 94 mph, that sinking change-up and a vastly improved curveball.” I go with changeup — one word, no hyphen, but other than that, it reads like a dream. *fighting self to not sing it, finally blurting out* It was all a dream, I used to read Word Up magazine. Ugh, sorry, I can’t stop myself whenever I hear or read “a dream,” I break into Juicy. It’s especially annoying when I shoot up in bed at four in the morning, sweating profusely and Cougs comforts me with, “Chester Cheetah is not chasing you, it was all a dream,” and I launch into song. That March 9th report was from Taijuan’s first spring training start (he pitched in “B” games prior), and before we knew there would be 78 days in March. Is it still March? Who’s to say? Not me, I’m not going out on that kind of limb. Just a week prior to that start, Taijuan Walker “wasn’t sharp” in his simulated game and a few months prior to that, I didn’t even rank him my top 100 starters for 2020 fantasy baseball or top 500. So, what gives? Or better yet…So, what about Taijuan Walker for 2020 fantasy baseball and what makes him a dart throw?
Taijuan Walker has all but locked-up the 5th spot in the Mariners’ rotation, because: Mariners ain’t got shizz, and, they don’t want shizz. Double shizz doesn’t make for one good shizz. Honestly, looking at the Mariners’ rotation and I’m not sure Taijuan’s not their number two starter, forget fifth. *rattling off M’s starters* Marco Gonzales, Yusei Kikuchi, um….Justus Sheffield…Do they need another starter or can they let their closer pitch? Wait, do they have a closer? So, yes, Taijuan Walker will throw as many innings as he can. How many can he throw? Well, when the season was still going as planned, he was penned in for 125-140 IP with a likely April start time in the rotation and maybe getting skipped a little, as any 5th starter would. None of that has changed, except everything about baseball’s season, so I’d put Taijuan down for around 80 IP. For what it’s Werth, Steamer pitcher projections have him down for 55 IP. That seems needlessly pessimistic. His rate stat projections, however, seem realistic or nah, 4.93 ERA, 1.38 WHIP? Hmm. That’s the trickiness and why I didn’t immediately rank him in The First Preseason. His last ‘full’ year was 3.49 ERA, 1.33 WHIP with a 8.4 K/9, 3.5 BB/9. As you can prolly surmise from the walk rate and WHIP, his command was suspect prior to Tommy John, and that usually zaps even more command from a pitcher. So, will post-Tommy John for Taijuan — Tommyjuan? Taijohn? — do further erosion of his rate stats? I think so. Steamer’s 1.38 WHIP seems fair, and with a WHIP that bad, well, not a lot of good comes of it when it’s coupled with an 8-ish K/9. Through all of this, I still think a last round flyer on a guy like Walker isn’t necessarily a terrible thing, but I don’t expect him to suddenly emerge as a frontline starter. Maybe he won’t be the worst starter on the M’s either, though put that in a blender with ice and you have crushed ice. He might even be the best M’s starter, just in a lot less innings. I’d put his projections conservatively down for a 4.30-4.50 ERA, 1.38-1.40 WHIP and around 80 innings. Worth a dart throw, but not much else.