Taijuan Walker returns to Mets rotation: ‘I was itching’

Taijuan Walker’s season was halted after just two innings on his first start.

But nearly three weeks later, after a stint on the injured list due to shoulder bursitis, the Mets right-hander will return to the mound against the Phillies on Saturday, hoping to fit straight into a rotation that thrived without him.

“It made me itchy,” Walker said ahead of the Mets’ 3-0 win over the Phillies on Friday at Citi Field. “I threw at our boys [in a simulated game on Monday] and the way my stuff is just coming out of my hand and the way my stuff is moving is the best i have ever felt and i think the best my stuff has looked in a long time.

Walker said his “shoulder feels brand new” after receiving an injection as part of his treatment for the injury, and the right knee, which he surgically repaired during the offseason, “feels really good too”. He said he should be built up to pitch at least five innings after throwing 64 pitches in Monday’s simulated game in St. Louis.

On his debut in 2022, also against the Phillies, Walker threw two perfect innings with four strikeouts before being pulled out with shoulder irritation. Left-hander David Peterson replaced him in that game and also made two solid starts in his place while Walker was in the IL and helped the Mets rotation post a 2.67 ERA in the first 20 games of the season.

Taijuan Walker
Taijuan Walker
USA TODAY sports

While the success of Walker’s fellow starters pushed him to come back even faster, it also gave him the time to make sure he was fully healthy before returning.

“I want to be out there pitching and competing, but we have such a good staff,” said Walker, who ran a rehab start in addition to simulated play. “It sucks, I feel bad, Peterson threw the crap out of the ball and he had to be sent down. Everyone who gets in has played well. It’s nice to have that depth. We didn’t have that last year so a lot of guys had to mess up some annoying stuff so they could have a break [from]. But if we are all healthy and everyone is fine, it will be fine. It will also be good in the long term.”

After his shoulder injury, Walker said he tweaked his mechanics from what he showed on his season debut.

“I just went back to my old mechanics, very simple,” he said. “Trying to simplify everything, less movements and I think that was really good and helpful for me to repeat everything.” Taijuan Walker returns to Mets rotation: ‘I was itching’


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