Mets’ Taijuan Walker departs start vs. Phillies because of shoulder irritation


New York Mets right-hander Taijuan Walker was forced from his season debut on Monday night against the Philadelphia Phillies (GameTracker) by shoulder irritation.

Walker, 29 years old, had completed two innings on 30 pitches before he had to be removed from the game. He hadn’t allowed the Phillies to reach base, and had struck out four batters. His average fastball was clocked at 93.7 mph, or down nearly a full tick from last season’s average of 94.5 mph, according to Statcast’s data.

Walker was replaced by left-hander David Peterson, who made 15 appearances for the big-league club in 2021. It’s unclear if and how Walker’s availability will be impacted in the near term, but teams often take a conservative approach with shoulder issues. Peterson, then, would seem to be in line to potentially take over a rotation spot.

Walker is in his second season with the Mets, having joined them prior to last year. In 30 appearances in 2021 (29 of them starts), he compiled a 4.47 ERA (90 ERA+) and a 2.65 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His performance in the first half was such as to earn him his first trip to the All-Star Game.

Should Walker require a trip to the injured list, he would join fellow starters Jacob deGrom and Joey Lucchesi. A stress reaction in deGrom’s scapula caused him to miss his Opening Day start, and he’s not expected back until closer to June as a result. Lucchesi, meanwhile, underwent Tommy John surgery last June. The usual timetable for a pitcher to return from that operation is at least 12 months, suggesting he won’t become a realistic option in the Mets’ rotation plans until the second half of the season.

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The Mets attempted to bolster their rotation over the winter, signing Max Scherzer and trading for Chris Bassitt. Nevertheless, it appears their depth will be tested right away.

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