Taijuan Walker

Thomson reveals Walker has ‘little hot spot' on index finger

Taijuan Walker allowed four runs in four innings, bumping his ERA to 5.60 Friday night against the Diamondbacks.

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A day after righthander Taijuan Walker had another rough outing that once again raised questions about his future in the Phillies rotation, Rob Thomson revealed that the 31-year-old has “this little hot spot” on his index finger.

The manager said he “absolutely” believes that’s why he’s been unable to throw his best pitch, the splitter, as often and effectively as he needs to.

“We’re going to try to work through that,” Thomson said. “I think it’s probably been going on for awhile. He’s not going to admit to anything, because he’s a competitor. He doesn’t want to tell his opponents he’s got a problem with his finger.”

Against the Diamondbacks on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park, Walker allowed four runs on five hits, three of them homers, in just four innings. That raised his earned run average to 5.60.

Whether or not Walker makes his next scheduled start, which would be Wednesday in Detroit remains up in the air, although it’s likely a decision will be made by Sunday. A stint on the injured list also has not been ruled out.

Walker, who’s in the second season of a 4-year, $72 million contract, made no excuses for his most recent performance. “The problem right now is that (the splitter is) not there,” he said. “It’s kind of been my bread-and-butter, my go-to pitch in tough situations. And right now it’s just not there. Obviously, I’m doing all I can to find it. But it really just isn’t there.

“It’s extremely frustrating. I’m busting my butt but I know I’ve got to clean my (stuff) up.”

That was after he threw 77 pitches, only nine of them splitters against Arizona. “He’s got to throw it more. He’s got to be healthy enough to throw it more,” Thomson said.

If Walker is unavailable, the probable move would be to use righthander Spencer Turnbull in that spot. He opened the season in the rotation while Walker was on the IL with shoulder soreness and went 2-0, 1.63 in six starts. His overall ERA is still 2.63 even though he's been used only sporadically since being moved to the bullpen.

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