Mets' Luis Rojas explains decision to let Taijuan Walker bat in fifth inning of Thursday's loss to Padres

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Taijuan Walker on mound with James McCann Francisco Lindor blue
Taijuan Walker on mound with James McCann Francisco Lindor blue

With the Mets still missing more than their fair share of everyday players due to injuries, Thursday night’s lineup struggled to get much of anything going against Padres starter Yu Darvish.

Darvish kept the Mets hitless through four innings, but the Mets had an opportunity in the fifth, as Mason Williams and Jose Peraza both singled with two outs to put runners on the corners.

With the Mets trailing, 3-0, manager Luis Rojas elected to let Taijuan Walker hit in that spot, rather than turning to the bench. Walker grounded out, and though the Mets eventually did their best to fight back, they lost the game by one run, putting the spotlight back on Rojas’ decision to let Walker bat.

After the game, Rojas explained why keeping Walker in the game at that point made sense for the team.

“The two things were that our bullpen (was) short and the other one is our bench is short,” Rojas said. “We didn’t have (Jonathan) Villar, so to do that at that point, it was a really hard decision with the two-out situation. We kept him in the game and he gave us the five innings that we needed, and then (Jacob) Barnes did a really good job giving us two.

“Our bullpen gets a breather because of that, and I think tomorrow we’ll be in better shape having (Joey) Lucchesi start and the guys following. … We had three guys, so we had to wait for an opportunity when we could double-switch and leave somebody in and have someone throw two innings like Barnes did for us.”

Walker threw a season-high 104 pitches, and he battled through five innings though his command was far from sharp, as he walked four batters compared to just two strikeouts.

“Definitely wasn’t my best stuff today. I had to grind through it today,” Walker said. “I just was kind of all over the place. The four walks, very disappointed in that. I just feel like I didn’t have the good life on my four-seam fastball today and I was just getting beat by it. I sort of made an adjustment and was throwing more two-seams and just kind of making them put the ball in play, get soft contact, and I feel like I did that the last couple innings, but I just didn’t have my best stuff.

“It was just one of those days. We had a bullpen day yesterday, so my goal was just to try to go as deep as possible. I got five innings, but I would have liked to go more.”

The Mets will look to get back in the win column on Friday, as they continue their four-game set with the Padres at 10:10 p.m. on SNY.