D-backs announce Taijuan Walker as starter for Game 1 of NLDS

Oct 5, 2017, 4:09 PM | Updated: Oct 6, 2017, 1:53 pm
(AP Photo/George Nikitin)...

(AP Photo/George Nikitin)

(AP Photo/George Nikitin)

The Arizona Diamondbacks announced Thursday that right-hander Taijuan Walker will be the team’s starting pitcher for Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In 2017, Walker had a solid season in the middle of the team’s rotation, going 9-9 with a 3.49 ERA.

Walker said Thursday he was told to be ready for either Game 1 or 2, but he found out a few hours before the official announcement.

“When they told me I didn’t make the roster for the Wild Card game, so I was already kind of mentally prepared for either one of these two games,” he said.

“It’s something we’ve been thinking about pretty much the entire time,” manager Torey Lovullo said of the decision. “We just want to check a few extra boxes and make sure. We’re excited about it. He’s throwing the ball well against the Dodgers and he’s going to be ready for the challenge.”

The pick of Walker makes sense given his consistency over the season for not putting his team out of games. In his 28 starts, Walker allowed five earned runs or more once and four earned runs four times. In that one outing, Walker gave up five earned runs to the Cincinnati Reds on July 8.

Walker did not pitch very deep into games, though, reaching seven innings pitched or more only twice.

Against the Dodgers this season, Walker made three starts, posting a 3.24 ERA and a 2-0 record, striking out 17 and walking five. In those two starts at Dodger Stadium over 11 innings, Walker had a 1.64 ERA.

Walker’s confident in the matchup.

“They know what I’ve got, and I kind of know what they’ve got and I kind of know their weaknesses,” he said. “So I think if I just follow my game plan, I think it should be good.”

The expectation was left-hander Robbie Ray to be the starter in Game 1 prior to the NL Wild Card Game, but with Zack Greinke unable to make it out of the fourth inning, Lovullo elected to use Ray in a relief role.

Lovullo did not confirm the starters for Games 2 and 3, but the plan is if Ray is seen as healthy, strong and ready, it will be him in Game 2 and Greinke in Game 3.

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