After three rounds of postseason play, the Philadelphia Phillies headed home earlier than expected. One player in particular is extra salty about the early exit and, more specifically, his role or lack thereof in the playoff run.
Starting pitcher Taijuan Walker didn't get a sniff of the postseason action despite being included on all three of the Phillies' playoff rosters.
So, the question is: did the Phillies do Walker a grave injustice by keeping him from the field, or does the pitcher just need thicker skin?
By now, it's no secret that Walker was not impressed with his unexpected relaxing postseason experience. Dropping a cryptic post that reads "Disrespect is at an all time high" on social media platform X following the team's elimination and then liking other posts critical of manager Rob Thomson is sure to catch the attention of, well, just about everybody in the Phillies' orbit.
In their end-of-year press conference on Thursday, both Thomson and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski gave Walker a pass for his social media "outburst."
"I haven't (spoken to him). I'll call him at some point," Thomson said. "People get emotional. He's a competitive guy.
"I love Taijuan, I really do. This guy gave us 15 wins. Every time he goes out to the mound, he competes until we take him out and then he never wants to come out. I want a guy like that. That type of thing doesn't bother me. I love him, I love his demeanor, I love his toughness. I'm sure everything will be fine."
Dombrowski echoed those sentiments: "I never get upset when a guy would like to pitch, that's good."
Why didn't Taijuan Walker get a postseason start?
In his first season in Philadelphia, Walker posted a 15-6 record, finishing with a close-to-league average ERA of 4.38, but obviously didn't do enough to secure a postseason starting role. With the three-headed monster of Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola and Ranger Suárez pitching as well as they did, there weren't any openings in the top three rotation spots.
Walker's end to the season may have contributed to the distrust from Dombrowski, Thomson and the coaching staff. In September, the 31-year-old pitched to a 5.93 ERA, and that came after a rough start to his season, when he had a 5.57 ERA through the first two months.
The only reason his final stats are palatable is his phenomenal 1.50 ERA in June and a 3.86 ERA in July. By the end of the season, Walker just wasn't doing enough to crack the rotation, which Dombrowski confirmed, saying, "He had a struggle for a while there near the end ... "
It bears out in the numbers. Even though his batting average, on-base and slugging percentage against remained relatively stable, the results and underlying metrics in September were much uglier.
You can even argue he got a little lucky in the final month of the season, despite the worrying changes — his BABIP dropped to .260, down from his rest-of-season mark of .275.
NEXT: How Walker whiffed on his chance to earn a start in the NLCS