Taijuan Walker was one of the main cogs in the Phillies’ starting rotation in 2023 after signing a four-year deal worth $72 million during the 2022-23 offseason. Walker had a rough start to his Phillies tenure coming out of the gate but eventually settled down as the season progressed.
He even had a dominant stretch in June in which he went 5-0 with a stellar 0.84 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, an opponent batting average of .174, and 32 strikeouts in 32 innings across five starts. Overall, Walker finished with a solid 15-6 record in the season, but with a less-than-stellar 4.38 ERA.
However, he struggled at the worst possible time for the Phillies down the stretch when he posted an ERA close to 6.00, giving up 20 earned runs in just 30 1/3 innings of work in five starts in September. Despite being the team’s unofficial No. 3 starter in the depth chart for much of the 2023 season, Walker was relegated to the sidelines and didn't pitch in a single game when playoff time rolled around.
With 2024 being year two of his four-year contract with the Phillies, there's no doubt he'll begin the season once again in their starting rotation. But what we witnessed in the playoffs was that the ballclub firmly chose to start Ranger Suárez and even Cristopher Sánchez over Walker, showing that he is perhaps the lowest on the depth chart among the starting five.
With that in mind, he could easily be gone by the Trade Deadline if the Phillies choose to upgrade their rotation for the stretch run. In addition, if Walker believes he's not regarded highly by the organization, with the bitter taste left in his mouth from his postseason experience last year, he may be gone sooner than expected.