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Mets’ Taijuan Walker looks for another stellar outing against Marlins

Sportsnaut
Aug 23, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Taijuan Walker (99) delivers a pitch against the New York Yankees during the fourth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

New York Mets right-hander Taijuan Walker surely is looking forward to Sunday, when he gets to face the host Miami Marlins again.

Walker is 10-4 with a 3.60 ERA this season. Against the Marlins, he has been even better: 3-0 with a 2.49 ERA in four starts.

However, the second halves of seasons have not been kind to Walker lately. Last year, he was an All-Star with a 7-3 record and a 2.66 ERA in the first half. But in the second half, he went 0-8 with a 7.13 ERA.

This year in the first half, he went 7-2 with a 2.55 ERA. In the second half, he is 3-2 with a 6.25 ERA.

Meanwhile, the Mets (88-52) and Marlins (57-81) have split the first two games of their series.

New York, locked into a battle for National League East supremacy with the Atlanta Braves, will face lefty Jesus Luzardo (3-6, 3.36) on Sunday.

In two career starts against the Mets, Luzardo is 1-0 with a 4.22 ERA. However, he has yet to face the Mets this year, when the Marlins have lost 10 of his 13 starts.

The Marlins on Saturday lost right fielder Avisail Garcia, who felt discomfort in his left hamstring and was removed from the game.

“He wanted to keep going, but we’re being cautious,” manager Don Mattingly said. “Hopefully, it’s just a couple days.”

The Mets are 11-5 against the Marlins this year, and shortstop Francisco Lindor has a lot to do with that. He has hit seven homers and driven 19 runs against Miami this season.

Lindor and Eduardo Escobar each went 3-for-5 with two RBIs in Saturday’s 11-3 Mets win, and both of them are switch-hitters.

Against the lefty Luzardo, New York could line up several sluggers from the right side, including Lindor, Escobar, Mark Canha and Pete Alonso, who leads the team with 33 homers and 108 RBIs. Lindor is second on the team in homers (22) and RBIs (91).

Canha hit his first career grand slam on Saturday.

However, the Mets placed standout right fielder Starling Marte on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Sept. 7, due to his broken middle finger on his right hand.

To replace Marte on the roster, the Mets called up corner infielder Mark Vientos, a top prospect who could make his major league debut on Sunday.

Vientos, 22, is from the Miami area, making this even more meaningful. In 101 Triple-A games this year, he has 24 homers, 72 RBIs and an .877 OPS.

“He’s a good-looking hitter,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said of Vientos. “He’s driven in a lot of runs, and I like that. He’s also made improvements defensively.”

Showalter said he’s not sure if Marte will be able to come off the injured list in one week. But the Mets are expecting slick-fielding second baseman Luis Guillorme to return soon, possibly on Monday.

In the meantime, it would not be a surprise if Vientos gets the start at DH on Sunday in place of veteran Darin Ruf, who has been slumping.

Since being acquired from the San Francisco Giants on Aug. 2, Ruf is just 7-for-46 for a .152 batting average.

“You feel you have to prove yourself all over again to a new group of people,” said Ruf, 36. “You can put pressure on yourself.”

–Field Level Media