The Phillies have a Taijuan Walker problem.

The veteran right hander signed a 4-year $77M contract in the 2022 offseason and has been a problem ever since.

Despite leading the team with wins a season ago, Walker pitched to a 4.38 ERA and was left off the postseason roster altogether due to bad outings down the stretch. This prompted Walker to like a few tweets that criticized Rob Thomson for a couple of different decisions against the Diamondbacks in the NLCS. This isn’t something that is normal for this particularly close group.

Walker came into the season this year with a pretty big dip in velocity, consistently sitting at 89-90 mph before he was placed on the IL with a shoulder injury to start the season.

This let Spencer Turnbull take the reigns, and he was phenomenal. At the time of Walker’s return Turnbull led the league in ERA but was still taken out of the rotation. Since returning from the IL, Walker has pitched 32.2 innings and has an ERA of 5.51 and a 5.29 FIP, all while sporting the same velocity dip we saw in the spring.

After allowing four earned runs in five innings pitched on Sunday night against the Cardinals, the questions regarding the team’s decision to move Turnbull out of the rotation in favor of Walker are not going away. It’s very possible that Walker is just not good anymore. He’s been through a ton of injuries, especially early in his career. For a team that has excelled at developing pitchers in recent years, the fact that they can’t fix Walker is very concerning.

It’s no secret that Turnbull should’ve never left the rotation; it’s strictly because of salary.

This sets a bad precedent for a team in win-now mode and tells Turnbull that no matter how well he plays, he has no chance of keeping a spot in the rotation.

The Phillies need to find a way to get out from under the Taijuan Walker contract soon, preferably at the trade deadline.
It’s time to get Turnbull back in the rotation.

PHOTO: The Philadelphia Inquirer

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