Toronto Blue Jays: Taijuan Walker, a Trade Wasted
In late August, the Blue Jays sent a solid 19-year old outfield prospect to the Seattle Mariners for Taijuan Walker. The Blue Jays had a depleted starting rotation and acquired a much needed arm, yet they may have lost out on really utilizing him.
Prior to the Blue Jays acquiring Taijuan Walker, he had made five starts for the Mariners, throwing 94+ pitches in three of those games and had his season high of 106 just a week prior to Toronto acquiring him. In those three starts, he pitched seven innings in two of them and six in the other. The career starter somehow would not get pushed in Toronto.
Walker started six games for the Blue Jays and he showed he truly was a front of the rotation starter in all but one, where he fell victim to some bad defence. In his first start with the Blue Jays on August 29, he threw six shutout innings and had thrown just 92 pitches, however Charlie Montoyo elected to pull him early. This appeared to be something he would do very often through Walker’s short stint as a Blue Jay.
Walker would only pitch six complete innings once during his stint, and threw more than 92 pitches just once as well. A few times over his tenure, Walker appeared visibly upset with the quick hooks, specifically on September 8th when he was pulled after four innings and throwing just 88 pitches, and when he had a shutout going. While his pitch count did rise quite quickly, Walker has enough experience and durability to get you at least another inning.
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During his final start of the season he was absolutely dominant as he threw three perfect innings and struck out four while throwing just 42 pitches. Montoyo took him out of the game again with the idea he was saving him for the playoffs. In this shortened season, you would have to think pitchers are just getting into their late June, early July routine and he would have had no issue continuing in the game.
All this safe pitching decisions turned out to be for not, as the rotation had Walker starting the third game of the Wild Card round. The Blue Jays ended up losing two straight games and Walker never made a playoff start.
Over his very small amount of time, Walker went 2-1 with a 1.37 ERA and he likely would have had at least four wins had he been left in long enough to get to five innings. Walker averaged just 4.1 innings per start, which is nowhere near his career average or what you look for in the type of player they acquired.
Do you think the Blue Jays utilized Taijuan Walker properly?