3 Mariners who will be Surprise All Stars in 2015
Mar 30, 2015; Peoria, AZ, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcherTaijuan Walker
(32) pitches against the Los Angeles Angels at Peoria Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
If Major League Baseball handed out Cy Young Awards for Spring Training, Taijuan Walker would be the heavy favorite to take home the hardware in 2015. Tai has been nearly unhittable in Cactus League play, going 4-0 and posting a 0.67 ERA across 27.0 innings pitched. He has struck out 26, and walked just 5 during his 7 spring outings. Walker dominated the competition this spring, and he will open the season as the M’s number 4 starter.
Many of us thought 2014 would be the breakthrough season for the gifted 22-year-old, but injuries and mechanical problems led to a disappointing year. Walker was injured last spring, and did not make his Mariners’ debut until June 30. Walker finished the season with a 2-3 record, and a 2.61 ERA across 38 innings pitched. His low ERA masks many of his struggles, as he spent much of the summer pitching for the Tacoma Rainiers due to his inability to throw strikes with Seattle.
However, after overhauling his windup in Tacoma, Walker looked much better in September. Walker went 1-1 with a 1.96 ERA across 23 innings during the final month of the season. His revamped delivery led to a superb performance against the Toronto Blue Jays, in which he took a hard luck loss after pitching 8 shutout innings.
There are plenty of quality hurlers in the AL, but not many possess the repertoire of pitches Tai Walker has. The powerful right-hander can get ahead of hitters with his 97 mph fastball, and then drop in his 77 mph breaking ball to get the strikeout. To have such a big discrepancy in velocity is rare, and lethal for a pitcher. Look for Walker to baffle hitters in 2015, and represent Seattle this summer in Cincinnati at his first All Star Game.