Taijuan Walker eager to get back to his best ahead of facing his former team in London

Phillies Taijaun Walker
Philadelphia Phillies’ Taijuan Walker pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants, Sunday, May 5, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The Philadelphia Phillies couldn’t have asked for a better start to their two-game stint in London. A huge 7-2 win over their divisional rival leaves the Fightin’s in good stead ahead of Sunday’s game and they’ll be turning the wheel over to a man who knows the Mets very well – Taijuan Walker.

Taijuan Walker’s road back from spring training injury scare

Walker’s 2024 didn’t start the way he envisioned. An early injury in Spring Training derailed his progress early on, but a quick recovery put him back into the fold at the end of April. Since then, he’s been fighting his way back into the picture, going 4-3 in his 7 starts with a 5.73 ERA.

The veteran mentioned earlier today that the team playing so well allowed him to focus on getting back up to speed and that he’s eager to reach the level his teammates are performing at right now.

’Our offense has been lights out. The 31-year-old explained after discussing his season so far. ‘We heard about this ballpark and the ball flight providing high-scoring games. When we know our offense can put up 4+ runs per game, it helps a lot.’

The road ahead

The Stadium does indeed have quite the track-record for producing football scores. When the Yankees and Red Sox clashed over two games here back in 2019, they combined for a stunning 50 runs. The weather was a little cooler on Saturday, which Rob Thompson mentioned in his postgame presser as something that helped keep the ball-flights down a little, but it’s still something Walker is conscious of going into his start on Sunday.

Phillies Taijuan Walker
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Taijuan Walker delivers during the first inning of the team’s baseball game against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday, June 29, 2023, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

’it’s one of those things where you try to pitch your game still. Whatever happens, happens. I want to try and keep the ball on the ground and limit fly balls. It’s like playing in Colorado.’

Walker will head to the mound tomorrow in hopes of building on his early foundations. A solid 4-game stretch in May hit a minor bump, with the Giants and Cardinals getting the best of him, but we’ve all seen how good the Shreveport native can be, and even in those losses, he struck out 9 combined hitters. If he can continue trending in the right direction, there’s no reason he can’t make his goal for the end of the season a reality: pitching in the postseason.

’I haven’t pitched in the postseason since 2017.’ He told me. ‘I want to try and finish strong at the end of the season and start strong when we get to the postseason’.

The first step on that road comes tomorrow against his former team. But now in his second year with the Phillies, Walker only has one thing on his mind – getting back to his best and helping the Phillies finish what they’ve started.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke