You could tell pretty early on in his start last Friday that he was on. Taijuan Walker walked a batter in the first, but pitched around it with a couple strikeouts. His fastball was fast. The movement on his change up was sick. And, even his curveball – which he’s reportedly been instructed to work into his repertoire more – was doing large quantities of damage. He had everything working to his advantage, and there was nothing the Twins could do about it.
The walk was long forgotten when I realized he was in the middle of a no-hit bid. Then, just as suddenly, in the bottom of the 4th, Walker left a pitch up that was crushed to left field. It would go on to be the only hit Walker gave up in his complete game victory.
9 innings, 1 hit, 1 run, 1 walk, 11 strikeouts, 101 pitches.
We’ve seen Walker struggle and we’ve seen Walker dominate. It’s about what you’d expect out of a rookie pitcher in his first full year in the Big Leagues. While the 2015 Mariners season has been a disappointment overall, it’s nice to see someone like Walker start to make the leap from flashy prospect to bona fide Major Leaguer. The next step for Walker will be refining it all into a consistent package; we want to see a vast majority of dominating performances for every clunker. We also want to see him on the days where he doesn’t quite have it all working, nevertheless reach back and gut out a tough 6-or-so innings while still keeping us in position to win the ballgame. Once he gets there, then we can all be satisfied with our Felix 2.0 projections from years past.