Mets' Taijuan Walker credits impressive debut to fans: 'Having fans in the stands is definitely a game changer'

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Ryan Morik
·2 min read
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Taijuan Walker pitches at Citi Field in Mets debut
Taijuan Walker pitches at Citi Field in Mets debut

Lost in the bizarre ending to the Mets’ 3-2 victory in their home opener was Taijuan Walker’s impressive Mets debut.

Walker didn't allow a hit through 4.1 innings, facing the minimum 13 batters up to that point, giving up a walk in the first inning for his only base runner.

And more even impressive for the big right-hander was the radar gun, as he was consistently sitting in the 94-96 range with his fastball and touched 97 for the first time in almost four years.

Last year, his fastball averaged at 93 mph.

“It could be further out from Tommy John, mechanics, and honestly, having fans in the stands again,” Walker said of his increased velocity. “My first start of the year, I was definitely amped up, that definitely, probably played into it, too. I just think that, definitely just being a few years removed from Tommy John now, and just been working my butt off. Making sure my arm strength is good, and been long tossing and basically doing everything I need to do.”

Walker said it was “cool” to peek at the scoreboard and see zero hits in the fifth inning. He appreciated the ovation he was given after allowing his first hit of the day, as well.

“You always try not to look at no-hitters, especially if it’s still early. Seventh, eighth innings, it’s a little different,” said Walker. “But yeah, I was just trying to go out there and try to pound the zone and make them put the ball in play. But the ovation from the fans was really nice, and having fans in the stands is definitely a game changer…

“Just to hear the cheers again was nice. Going out there, throwing first pitch, fans are cheering, got a couple family members, hearing them cheer me on in the stands, and obviously getting the walk-off win, too, to have fans in here, too, to experience that in our home opener, it was fun and very special.”

With added velocity, Walker now has another weapon in his arsenal.

"It’s nice. 0-2, I can up it a little bit, top of the zone with a four-seam fastball knowing it might be 95, 96. Just that extra gear, it’s always nice to have.”

In his last seven starts, dating back to last year, Walker owns a 1.65 ERA (six earned runs/32.2 inning).