Port ST. LUCIE – Tijuan Walker used his rehab from Tommy John surgery to reassess his atrophy identity for nearly two full seasons.
By that time, leading in 2018 when he explored elbow ties with the Diamondbacks, the Mets’ new starting pitching relied on extra raw heat, often meaning elevated pitch counts. He vowed to change his outlook, and began working with Driveline, an analytics-based company, before last season.
“There is a lot of technology in the game right now and I think the biggest thing is learning how to apply it to my game,” Walker said after a full-squad workout on Tuesday. “I got a bunch of data and they were able to work on the stuff they told me to work on. It definitely helps with my pitches. “
Walker, after digesting the numbers, added a two-seam fastball and turned his cutter into a slider. Now to boost his strike totals, the 28-year-old Walker says he is comfortable pitching for exposure and preservation of his bullets.
He split the previous season between the Mariners and Blue Jays, combined for 11 with a 2.70 ERA and 4-16 with a 1.163 WHIP. This was enough to earn Walker a $ 20 million two-year contract from the Mets, which desired a more experienced hand for the slot behind Jacob DeGrom, Carlos Carrasco and Marcus Strowman.
“I liked where I was coming from Tommy John last year, I thought it was a big step for me,” Walker said. “But I think this year will be much better.
He said, ‘I have a good defense behind me and I try to put the ball in play. I don’t have to try to hit 15 guys and count my pitch, I really want to try to go deeper into the game and really try to be aggressive there. “
After missing out late on Trevor Bauer in the offshin, who signed a $ 102 million three-year deal with the Dodgers, the Mets focused on and bid on Jake Erita and James Paxton, among others. It wasn’t until pitchers and catchers were to report last week that the club became serious with Walker, who represented the only real inventory remaining on the market, beginning with Jake Odorizzi.
“I thought [Walker’s] When he went to Blue Jayce at the end of that year to use the splitter last year, it was a big key for him, even convincing against the righties, ”manager Luis Rojas said. “We know he’s got a spinner, he’s got a slider, but the splitter was a good pitch – there’s a bit of funkiness and a fastball can still be firm, even to 95-96 [mph]. I can’t wait to see her there. “
Walker produced the play over the weekend, arguing on social media whether he should wear the number 00 or 99. He eventually opted for the latter – becoming the first Mets player to wear 99 since Turk Wendell. Walker wore the number with Arizona, she felt. To get it until he reaches the Yankees (Aaron Judge owns those points), but when he went to Toronto, Lt. Hyun-jin Ryu had 99. Walker, therefore, wanted another number, which he thought was safe for whom to pitch, selected 00. Then, after signing with the Mets, he found that the team’s mascots were 00 belonging to Mr. Mate, so Went back to 99.
Walker posted himself a picture of bottled wine on Twitter until last weekend, exposing himself to Mets fans. It wasn’t just any bottled wine – it was a sign for the iconic Mets pitcher from Tom Sewer’s vineyards.
“I’m a huge wine guy and the deal wasn’t official yet, but it was heading that way,” Walker said. “I just thought it was appropriate to open a nice bottle of wine that night and what was the bigger thing than opening a bottle of Tom Sewer’s wine?” Really good wine, by the way