It’s not too late to say sorry. The Philadelphia Phillies began the year getting swept away by the Texas Rangers only to flounder around a little bit in the first few months before finally taking off in June. They look like serious National League contenders.
A reason for the early struggles was how poorly some of their players were doing. It wasn’t just the absence of Bryce Harper holding the Phillies back. Poor pitching, inexplicably poor hitting, and an untrustworthy bullpen all had us wondering if the hangover was real.
Now into the first week of July, it’s time for a pair of Phillies to receive an apology from their doubters. Two more who have improved may be trending toward a “sorry” of their own, but aren’t quite there yet.
Taijuan Walker has earned an apology from his doubters
Taijuan Walker is 9-3 with a 3.93 ERA after 17 starts. It’s good and about what you’d want from a number three or four starter depending on how you’d slot him and Ranger Suarez. The Phillies were asking for a little more from Walker, but those numbers he has on the year are skewered because of an awful beginning to the year.
Walker was just 2-1 with a 4.97 ERA after 5 starts in April. Things didn’t get any better in May. Walker, again 2-1, saw his ERA for the month jump up to 6.11.
Something clicked for the Phillies’ big free agent starting pitching acquisition in June. He made another 6 starts and managed to go 5-1 while allowing only 6 earned runs in 36 innings of work. This came out to a 1.50 ERA for the month where the Phillies turned their fortune around.
In a year where Zack Wheeler hasn’t been Cy Young material and Aaron Nola has been more down than up, getting this kind of performance from Walker on a regular basis is keeping them in the thick of the wild card chase. The team is still trying to figure out who their fifth starter is. Leaving little doubt is Walker who looks like the right free agent choice by the front office in the offseason.