Taijuan Walker to make 2014 season debut on Monday

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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.

Once again, Cy Young votes from the Tampa Bay chapter were interesting

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In 2016, Red Sox starter Rick Porcello narrowly and controversially eked ahead of then-Tigers starter Justin Verlander in Cy Young Award balloting, winning on points 137 to 132. Verlander was not included at all in the top-five of two ballots, both coincidentally belonging to writers from the Tampa Bay chapter, MLB.com’s Bill Chastain and Fred Goodall of the Associated Press. Verlander had more first-place votes than Porcello, but being left out of the top-five on two ballots was the difference maker.

In the aftermath, Verlander’s then-fiancée Kate Upton fired off some angry tweets, as did Justin’s brother Ben.

Verlander was again in the running for the 2018 AL Cy Young Award. He again finished in second place, this time behind Blake Snell of the Rays. Snell had 17 first-place votes and 169 total points to Verlander’s 13 and 154. There weren’t any ballots that made a big difference like in 2016, but there were two odd ballots from the Tampa Bay chapter again.

If a chapter doesn’t have enough eligible voters, a voter from another chapter is chosen to represent that city. This year, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News was a replacement voter along with Mark Didtler, a freelancer for the Associated Press. Both writers voted for Snell in first place, reasonably. But neither writer put Verlander second, less reasonably, putting Corey Kluber there instead. Madden actually had Verlander fourth behind Athletics reliever Blake Treinen. Didtler had Treinen in fifth place. Two other writers had Verlander in third place: George A. King III of the New York Post and Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. The other 26 had Verlander in first or second place.

Voting Kluber ahead of Verlander doesn’t make any sense, especially we finally live in a world where a pitcher’s win-loss record isn’t valued highly. Kluber had 20 wins to Verlander’s 16 and pitched one more inning. In every other area, Verlander was better. ERA? Verlander led 2.52 to 2.89. Strikeouts? Verlander led 290 to 222. Strikeout rate? Verlander led 34.8% to 26.4%. Opponent batting average? Verlander led .198 to .222. FIP and xFIP? Verlander led both 2.78 and 3.03 to 3.12 and 3.08, respectively. And while Treinen had an excellent year, Verlander pitched 134 more innings, which is significant.

Upton had another tweet for the occasion: