Taijuan Walker tabbed for Mets’ postponed series opener vs. Braves

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Taijuan Walker will have to wait one more day before making his return from the Mets’ crowded injured list.

After inclement weather postponed Friday night’s series opener, Walker will get back in the saddle on Saturday for the first time since May 17, when tightness in his left side forced him to leave his start after just three innings. That start came against the Atlanta Braves, the same team Walker will face in his delayed return.

Luis Rojas mentioned that the team will try to keep Jacob deGrom (recently reinstated from the IL himself) on his regular schedule, which would have him pitch on Sunday.

“We want to get Walker in there tomorrow,” the Mets manager said. “Sunday, we’ll probably announce that tomorrow. We always want to keep Jake in line. We’ll have conversations about what we need to do and if we need to push [David] Peterson to Monday.”

Walker threw live batting practice on Tuesday at Citi Field and was deemed ready to rock for Friday night, but Mother Nature had other ideas. Walker’s return means that each of the Mets’ five most-used starting pitchers are all healthy again, though a few others who figured to make an appearance at some point, are still on the mend.

Carlos Carrasco — the veteran starter who came over from Cleveland in the Francisco Lindor trade — has not pitched yet. He was transferred to the 60-day IL in early May with a hamstring tear. He is expected to be sidelined at least until July. Noah Syndergaard will not throw for at least six weeks after a setback in his Tommy John rehab.

While Walker and deGrom were sitting out, the Mets turned to Jordan Yamamoto for an ill-fated spot start. They also won a bullpen game in which relievers Miguel Castro, Tommy Hunter, and Robert Gsellman teamed up to complete the first five innings. Since then, both Yamamoto and Hunter have landed on the injured list as well.

Walker has been the best starter not named deGrom on the Mets’ staff this year. He’s second to deGrom in ERA and WHIP and has allowed just one home run all season. Batters have struggled mightily against Walker, hitting just .162 and striking out 23.7% of the time. Though it certainly wasn’t part of the plan, Friday’s inclement weather gives Walker and the rest of the Mets’ bumps and bruises an extra 24 hours to heal.

“We can use the extra rest,” Rojas said. “It’s another day where the guys can rest their arms, bullpen wise. We will not have a doubleheader tomorrow, so that’s an opportunity for us to be more rested. So, we’ll take a day like this.”

Getting the rotation back healthy certainly helps take some of the pressure off the Mets’ depleted group of hitters. The team is hitting just .219 for the month of May. Their on-base percentage has sagged to .301 as they’ve played most of the month without Jeff McNeil and Brandon Nimmo, two of their leaders in that category. Predictably, the offense’s slugging percentage has taken a hit as well, with middle of the order bats Michael Conforto and Pete Alonso out with hamstring and hand ailments, respectively. The Mets are slugging .337 in May.

Marcus Stroman helped keep the pitching staff — and the Mets as a whole, in many ways — afloat during their injury-ravaged period. Stroman’s thrown more innings than anyone in a Mets uniform thanks in part to four consecutive starts of at least six innings. The Mets squeaked out one-run victories in three of those four games. His latest masterpiece was a tactical destruction of the Rockies. Colorado managed just three hits and no runs against the diminutive New York native, who handed the ball to Edwin Diaz to lock down the Mets’ win in the first seven-inning installment of Thursday’s doubleheader.

“I’ve always taken pride in taking the ball every fifth day and putting my team in a position to win,” Stroman said after the game. “Since we have a lot of guys [on the IL], I feel like it puts a little more pressure on the guys in the rotation to carry their load. I know once we get them back, we’ll roll. We have a ton of adversity right now, but we’re putting wins together. We just have to keep this momentum up and keep this camaraderie that we have.”

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