The Philadelphia Phillies were defeated 5-4 by the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday. Starting pitcher Taijuan Waker lasted just four innings and surrendered four runs in the defeat. Walker also walked three hitters while striking out three as well. Phillies manager Rob Thomson still believes in Walker's ability on the mound, but isn't sure if the veteran pitcher is completely healthy at the moment.

“He struggled, you know,” Thomson said of Walker, via NBC Sports Philadelphia. “Command was off, up in the zone. Threw a few more splits just percentage wise. Just seemed everything was hanging. He was getting behind in the count and then having to come after people. Everything was up in the zone and hittable. But I know he's working on it and I know he cares. That's why I have patience with him… Probably sit down with him tomorrow (Saturday) just to make sure he's healthy.”

Walker, 31, was an All-Star in 2021. He has struggled in 2024, however. Walker has also dealt with injury concerns this season.

Overall, the right-handed pitcher owns a 5.60 ERA across 10 starts in 2024. He pitches for a talented Phillies team so Philadelphia has still been able to win games even when he has not had his best stuff on the mound. Nevertheless, Thomson wants to make sure Walker is healthy amid his recent struggles.

“That's why I want to ask the question, because it looks like he is trying to create it,” Thomson said. “And that's when he gets the misfires. So I just want to make sure he's healthy.”

Taijuan Walker trying to bounce back in 2024

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Taijuan Walker (99) throws a pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first inning at Citizens Bank Park.
Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

Walker recorded a 22.3 percent strikeout rate and 8.4 percent walk rate during his 2021 All-Star season with the New York Mets, via Baseball Reference. In 2024, his strikeout rate his dipped to 18.7 percent and his walk rate currently sits at 9.1 percent.

Those numbers are not even the Phillies pitcher's biggest concern, though.

Walker currently has the highest hard-hit rate against of his career. Opposing batters are hitting the ball hard 51.5 percent of the time against Walker. In 2021, that mark was 39.6 percent.

As Thomson mentioned, Walker was leaving pitches up in the zone and in “hittable” locations. It goes without saying, but that is not a recipe for success at the big league level. However, Taijuan Walker has a proven track record. As a result, Thomson's comments are understandable.

Decline does occur in any sport. But at just 31 years old, one has to wonder if there is another issue that has led to Walker's underperformance. Thomson is going to make sure that Walker is feeling alright on Saturday. The Phillies will likely provide an update later in the day.

Phillies' pitching

Overall, Philadelphia's pitching has found success in 2024. Ranger Suarez and Zack Wheeler are both pitching at Cy Young-caliber levels. Aaron Nola has also performed well for the most part. Cristopher Sanchez has stepped up and played a pivotal role in the team's starting rotation as well.

The Phillies are going to be patient with Walker. If he fails to turn things around over the next few weeks, perhaps Philadelphia will consider adding another pitcher at the trade deadline. Or they could move Spencer Turnbull back to the rotation. Turnbull has a 2.63 ERA across 16 games pitched (six starts) so far in 2024.

In the end, the Phillies are hopeful that Walker will bounce back soon. He has the potential to do so without question.