Taijuan Walker was expected to open 2014 as a member of the Mariners’ starting rotation, but shoulder problems threw him off in spring training and he was placed on the disabled list when Opening Day rolled around. The kid is now finally ready.
MLB.com’s Greg Johns reports that Walker, a 21-year-old right-hander who was rated a Top 10 prospect this winter by MLB.com, is scheduled to make his season debut on Monday night against the Astros. “As of now, if all goes well and it’s not official, but we’ll start Walker on Monday and a move is pending,” manager Lloyd McClendon told MLB.com late Saturday.
Walker debuted at the major league level in 2013, posting a 3.60 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 12/4 K/BB ratio in 15 innings (three starts). He owns a 3.48 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 446 strikeouts in 411 2/3 minor league innings.
The Mariners are still alive in the American League West and the American League Wild Card race with a 43-38 record and +47 run differential. If Walker meets the hype, he’ll obviously help the cause.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.
McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).
McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.