On Friday afternoon, the Seattle Mariners announced that they promoted Taijuan Walker to Triple-A Tacoma. He will make his first start for the Rainiers this coming Tuesday at Cheney Stadium.
Walker has really forced the issue here. While it was thought that the club wanted to keep him with Double-A Jackson through their All-Star break -- something the club has done with many prospects, same with playoffs, to give them that experience -- that game has been pushed back a month later than in previous seasons. Not scheduled to happen until the latter part of next month, it would be another three to four starts in a league where Walker just has nothing left to prove.
Those command problems? Not hanging around like before. He's running a 3.2 SO/BB ratio this season, but that has ballooned big time in the last month. It's his last three starts that have really proven that he's ready to move up to face better hitters. In that span, he's struck out 28 and walked only one. Here are the splits:
|Last 7 days||1||0||1.29||1||1||0||7||6||1||0||0||0||12||1||0||0.857||15.4|
|Last 28 days||1||3||1.93||5||5||0||32.2||21||7||2||5||0||39||2||0||0.796||10.7||7.8|
I believe this is the right move to make for Walker at this stage in his development. Will the command problems return against more selective batters who are older and more progressed in their development? That's one of the big questions that will determine whether Walker makes it to Seattle early or late in the 2014 campaign.
While the club rolled the dice with Brandon Maurer, I don't think that's something they want to push with Walker. He's got real front-of-the-rotation stuff and could be one heck of an addition to a rotation with Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma in it (though, we'll see if the latter is still around then).
If you live in the area, buy a ticket for a Walker start in Tacoma. It's a great stadium and there are some fun kids to watch there. They win games, too! Danny Hultzen should be back soonish, so it's possible that the entirety of the "Big Four" could be seen in succession in one homestand.
Plus, I'll buy you a beer if we bump into each other. Mmm. Beer.