- Rating: 3.48
- Age: 29
- 2019 Stats: MLB 20.2 IP, 9.15 ERA, -0.5 WAR
- MilB: AAA 100 IP, 5-10 7.38 ERA, 7.29 K/9
- 2019 Salary: Pro Rated Amount of League Minimum
- 2020 Status: Free Agent
A 3rd round pick of the Mets in 2012, Koch arrived in Arizona as part of the Addison Reed deal way back in 2015. He’s jumped from Reno to the big league club multiple times since then, with his most notable appearance last year as a fill-in starter for Taijuan Walker, going 5-5 across 14 starts with a 4.68 ERA. He has a 4 pitch mix, with a fastball, cutter, slider and change-up to round up his arsenal.
Koch was excellent in Spring Training, pitching 17 innings of 3.18 ERA ball to earn a spot as the long relief guy out of the bullpen, with first dibs of a rotation spot if someone struggled or was injured. Turns out, Koch was the one who struggled and he wasted no time doing so. After another poor Zack Greinke Opening Day start, Koch was called on to finish the game, and he did so, throwing 4.1 IP but allowing 4 home runs en route to 5 earned runs. He was again called on in the finale of that Dodgers series, and was just as bad, allowing 3 earned runs in only .2IP. His hell week continued, culminating in a mop up appearance in a blow out victory against the Red Sox. Called on to finish the game, he did that but in the process allowed 7 runs across 2.1IP. His ERA was a 18.41 after the first week.
He’d actually pitch much better the rest of the way, with only two blemishes to speak of, although when it takes two runs an inning to keep an 18 ERA, any semblance of good pitching will lower that. It all came to a head in his last game of the season for the D-backs, allowing 4 runs across 4 innings after Zack Godley couldn’t get out of the 3rd. His ERA after that game was a whopping 9.15 across 20.2 disastrous innings. He was demoted and outrighted to Reno shortly thereafter.
Koch accepted the demotion, and stayed the rest of the year in Reno with just as bad results. 100 innings, 17 starts and a 7.71 ERA is not good, even in the inflated atmosphere of the Pacific Coast League. To be fair, with a 5.87/5.59 FIP/xFIP signifying he was a bit unlucky during his time in the minor leagues.
HIGHLIGHT OF 2019
As much as I’d like to post a highlight of a Spring Training start where he struck out 6 over 5 innings, a clip of Matt plunking someone in his last appearance of the season was too good to pass up on.
Whats Next in 2020?
Matt isn’t a part of the 40-man roster and has more than 6 years experience at the minor league level, so I believe he becomes a free agent if not wanted by the D-backs. And at 29 years old and an awful 2019, it’d be difficult to see Koch get a major league contract. Expect him to test out the market and sign a minor league deal somewhere else or do like Merrill Kelly did and take his chances in a Foreign professional league like Japan or Korea. Wherever he ends up in 2020, we all appreciate the time he’s spent in a Diamondbacks uniform.