Is Taijuan Walker MLB ready?


Aug 30, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Taijuan Walker (27) pitches during the fourth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The answer is yes. Yes he is ready to be a Major League starting pitcher in 2014. If that is all you wanted to know about that, you don’t even have to read anymore. Just move on and enjoy the rest of your day. But be confident he will be on the Mariners 2014 25-man roster.

I’m sure some of you are like ‘yea yea I get it Taijuan Walker is good and he should be a starter for the Mariners next season. Duh’.

Though it may seem crudely obvious and pointless for me to write about I am going to write about it anyway because he is an integral part of future Mariner success and because he has cool hair and there isn’t too much to talk about for Mariners fan on a Wednesday night in early October (when all the other teams get to enjoy their playoff baseball. Ok I know it is only 10 teams but still, one of them isn’t the Mariners).

This post may look eerily similar to my previous post on the future of James Paxton. That is because they are eerily similar. Because maybe I have a master plan to talk about the Mariners youngsters in an offseason that will really make or break the years of work Jack Z has put into this organization. (OR maybe my boss suggested a great series on minor leaguers that I just couldn’t say no to).

But enough of my babbling. Let’s talk Tai. Because Jack talk Tai very well (if you weren’t sure that is a Meet the Parents movie reference. If you haven’t seen it go rent it now. Or find it on Netflix).

Here are his minor and major league numbers for 2013:

Jackson Generals (AA): 4 wins. 7 losses. 84.0 innings pitched. 10.29 K/9 innings. 3.21 BB/9. 2.46 ERA. 3.13 FIP.

Tacoma Rainiers (AAA): 5 wins. 3 losses. 57.1 innings pitched. 10.05 K/9. 4.24 BB/9. 3.61 ERA. 3.62 FIP.

Mariners (MLB): 1 win. 0 losses. 15.0 innings pitched. 7.2 K/9. 2.4 BB/9. 3.60 ERA. 2.25 FIP.

A couple of important things to note: he has a great strikeout rate in the minors. But far too many walks (like Paxton, and like many young flamethrowers trying to find the strikezone). However in Seattle his BB/9 was only 2.4, which was very promising (Felix Hernandez’s BB/9 this season was 2.03). Also in the majors his FIP is very good… his ERA was aided (or un-aided?) by poor defense and untimely situational hitting and ballpark dimensions.

Of course 15.0 innings isn’t an adequate sample size in major league baseball. But that is ok for now. Those 3 games pitched by Walker in the majors prove he has some makeup to compete and being dominant in the majors against the top competition in the world (granted his three starts were against the Lastros, the KC Royals, and the Lastros again).

But still, even if people say the Astros are a AAAA team, that is still better and steeper competition than in the Pacific Coast league.

No more funny business with the Mariners. Give Walker a chance to step up and produce for this team that desperately needs tough, gritty, effective starting pitching. If the Oakland Athletics can crank out competitive rookies and win meaningful games with them on the mound, so can the Mariners. We have that kind of pitching talent. We need to unleash. I mean for the love of God the A’s are starting a rookie in the deciding game of the ALDS tonight.

The Mariners need to stone up and give Walker a chance to solidify himself as a number 2 starter for the foreseeable Mariners future. Some call him the Fresh Prince of Seattle, and it is time like we start treating him like the heir to King Felix’s throne. Those two feasting on the American League (along with Iwakuma) would be something really fun to watch in 2014.

And we all know Mariners fans need a little more fun in their lives.