You only get one chance to make a first impression. The first impression Taijuan Walker has given the Philadelphia Phillies this year is equivalent to spilling a drink on a new boss whose name you got incorrectly pronounced. He’s amazingly only 3-2 but the owner of a 6.53 ERA and someone who has been chased before tossing 5 innings in 5 of his 9 starts.
Walker’s most recent appearance against the San Francisco Giants was his worst. Walker was lifted in the first inning after retiring two batters. He was charged with 4 earned runs in what would turn out to be a Phillies loss to the San Francisco Giants. The Phillies may have reached a little too far by signing Walker this offseason to a four-year deal worth $72 million.
There may already be some regrets. Looking back at some of the other options the Phillies could’ve gone after, these three pitchers on the same tier with similar contracts would have been much better additions.
1) The Phillies should’ve signed Nathan Eovaldi instead of Taijuan Walker
Nobody made more sense for the Phillies this offseason than free agent Nathan Eovaldi. The connection to Dave Dombrowski from their days with the Boston Red Sox made him a perfect fit to reunite in Philadelphia. Instead of the Phillies, Eovaldi was one of several free agent starting pitchers the Texas Rangers signed. He ended up with salaries of $16 million in 2023 and 2024 with a $20 million vesting option for 2025.
So far, Eovaldi has been a bargain for the Rangers while Walker is looking like a payroll burden.
Eovaldi has gone 5-2 with a 2.83 ERA in his 9 starts for the Rangers. He already has a complete game shutout and managed to follow it up with a pair of 8+ inning performances. Eovaldi is 9 for 9 at going 5 innings or more.
What would’ve made Eovaldi especially good for the Phillies is his playoff experience. Alongside Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler, the Phillies rotation would have been formidable. Walker hasn’t had the chance to prove he is a big game pitcher. At the rate he’s going, he never may get it even if the Phillies find themselves back in the playoffs again.