The continued strong pitching of Taijuan Walker will be an important part of any aspirations the Philadelphia Phillies have for the postseason
A first-year member of the National League East club’s staff, the right-hander will make his 18th start for manager Rob Thomson on Wednesday night when the Phillies try to win their three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla
In Tuesday’s series opener, the Phillies got an outstanding start from Aaron Nola to beat the Rays for the first time since April 15, 2018, downing the American League East leaders 3-1. The Phillies have won 10 straight on the road — their longest streak since 1976, when they won a club-record 13
Walker’s first 17 outings have helped put the reigning NL champions in a wild-card battle with the Miami Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers and San Francisco Giants.
After starting for two seasons with the New York Mets, the 30-year-old Walker sports a 9-3 record with a 3.93 ERA.
The past two campaigns have been good ones for the Shreveport, La., native: He holds a 21-8 slate and owns a 3.65 ERA across his past 46 starts for the East Division rival clubs.
Walker was dynamite last month. In six starts, he went 5-1 with a 1.50 ERA, allowing just six runs in 36 innings. He yielded just 22 hits and two home runs, fanned 34 and posted a 0.889 WHIP.
However, most of Walker’s good stuff has been on home grounds. He is 5-3 with a 5.26 ERA in 10 starts away from Philly.
“I want to pick up my teammates,” said Walker, who has earned the win in his past five starts, producing a 0.84 ERA. “They’ve picked me up.”
In two career starts against Tampa Bay, Walker holds no record and a 7.00 ERA in nine innings.
Craig Kimbrel, who notched his 13th save Tuesday, earned June’s NL Reliever of the Month honors following a five-save, 0.69 ERA output over 13 outings.
On Tuesday, the Rays appeared to be overmatched against Nola, who used a nasty breaking ball to set season highs in strikeouts (12) and pitches (104) in improving his record to 8-5 and handing the Rays their third straight setback
“Really good stuff,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said of Nola. “We knew coming in he was going to throw that breaking ball – it’s a big equalizer. With his kind of upshoot delivery and arm action, sometimes that fastball up in the top of the zone really carries
“We ultimately just … he beat us. Lot of swing and miss. You have to tip your cap.”
Wander Franco, who went 2-for-4, homered and stole a base in the loss, was told following the game that he had been added to the AL All-Star team – his first appearance in the summer classic.
The 22-year-old Dominican shortstop is hitting .286 with 10 homers, 43 RBIs and 27 stolen bases, but he was benched for two games on the previous homestand for a lack of professional conduct when it came to handling failure.
Yonny Chirinos (4-3, 3.64) is expected to log the majority of innings for Tampa Bay on Wednesday – either starting or in a bulk-innings role behind an opener. The right-hander, who went 2-2 with a 4.62 ERA in five June outings, will make his first career appearance against the Phillies
–Field Level Media
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