5 Phillies players we need to raise the bar for in 2024

Whether a particular player had a down year in 2023 or there’s more they can offer to the team, it’s time to raise some expectations for 2024.
Aaron Nola is one Philadelphia Phillies player the team needs more from in 2024
Aaron Nola is one Philadelphia Phillies player the team needs more from in 2024 / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages
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Taijuan Walker, SP

Taijuan Walker didn’t have the greatest first year as the newest member of the Phillies rotation in 2023. During the offseason last year, he was signed to a four-year deal worth $72 million. Sure, the free agent pitcher market was white-hot, but Walker didn't live up to expectations typically reserved for a guy making $18 million a year.

He ended the regular season with a 4.38 ERA, 1.308 WHIP, and 4.53 FIP which was arguably his worst season since 2021 with the Mets or 2015 with the Mariners. To his dismay, Walker didn’t make one single pitch in the 2023 postseason. Rob Thomson simply just didn't trust him to start a game or even come in for mop-up duty in games that were out of hand. Taking a step back, the fact that a pitcher making $18 million a year was unable to contribute in the playoffs is a bad look.

Walker also had significant issues in the early innings of his starts. His ERA in the first inning was a lofty 7.04 and tapered down towards 4.60 in the fourth inning. If he can figure out how to get off to faster starts and limit damage in the early innings, he can have a season that everyone would be extremely excited about.

Walker is slated to be the fourth pitcher in the Phillies rotation behind Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, and Ranger Suárez and just in front of Cristopher Sánchez, but his spot may be in jeopardy if the Phillies make a surprise move to add another arm to the rotation.

In order for the Phillies to keep pace with the Atlanta Braves and other top NL teams, they will need to get the most out of their veterans and high-cost players. It’s time to raise the bar for the 11-year veteran.