The Phillies dropped the first game of today’s doubleheader with the Mets by a score of 4-3. Taijuan Walker once again struggled in the first inning but rebounded, unfortunately the Phillies offense wasn’t able to get much going against Mets starter Tylor Megill.
Philadelphia had a ninth inning rally that cut the deficit to one run thanks in large part to the baserunning prowess of Weston Wilson who stole two bases to get the tying run on third with one out. But Jake Cave and Cristian Pache were not able to get him home.
First inning blues
Taijuan Walker has struggled in the first inning all season long, and that trend continued in his final start of the year. Once again Walker struggled with his command and velocity to start the game, as he allowed three singles, a walk, a wild pitch, and three total runs before the inning was over. The second inning started out much the same with a home run from Omar Narvaez to push the lead to 4-0.
Taijuan Walker and first innings, man. He has given up 26 first-inning runs (24 earned) in 31 starts, including three here today in a largely meaningless game vs. Mets. 7.04 first-inning ERA.— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) September 30, 2023
But that was it
Also much like his season as a whole, Walker settled down after the first two innings and did not allow a hit after the home run to Narvaez and retired 12 straight at one point until a leadoff walk in the 7th. He finished with 106 pitches, 45 of them were in the first two innings.
What to do for the postseason?
Walker will most likely not be used in the Wild Card series next week. The Phillies would not need a fourth starter unless they advance to the NLDS. That’s when the debate comes in as to what exactly Walker’s role will be. His first inning struggles cast doubt on using him as a starter, and he’s only appeared out of the bullpen four times in his career. Cristopher Sánchez has staked a better claim to getting a postseason start than Walker, but he may be utilized out of the bullpen before a fourth starter is needed.
How did they score?
The Phillies did not get a hit until a J.T. Realmuto single in the fourth inning. Realmuto finished 2-3 with a walk and started the ill-fated ninth inning rally with another single. Brandon Marsh drove him in with a ground-rule double before Wilson singled in Marsh. Edmundo Sosa drove in the Phillies’ first run of the day with a two-out single in the eighth that scored Wilson from second.
The important thing
No one (to current knowledge) was injured in the game today and despite Walker’s struggles, he ate the innings and allowed Rob Thomson to only use Luis Ortiz in relief. Somebody has to soak up these innings even if they don’t matter.
Game two on deck.