For now, right-hander Matt Koch will take Taijuan Walker’s place in the rotation of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Timing is never right, but this could be particularly devastating for the Arizona Diamondbacks. That’s because the decision Wednesday for starter Taijuan Walker to undergo Tommy John surgery comes at the beginning of the season.
Except for two weeks in April, Taijuan Walker’s spot in the rotation needs to be addressed over nearly a six-month period and for a team which hopes to stay competitive in the National League West Division.
For his Friday assignment, Matt Koch was scratched from a start with Triple-A Reno and made sure he had proper rest and preparation. Over the past two seasons with Arizona, Matt Koch, out of Cherokee, Iowa, appeared in three games and started two during the 2016 season.
Initially signed by the New York Mets as a third-round pick in the 2012 draft, the 27-year-old was dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 29, 2015, for reliever Addison Reed
Going forward, Matt Koch is the starter of choice, and that selection was likely compromised when the Arizona Diamondbacks dealt lefty Anthony Banda in spring training as part of a three-team deal. That brought Steven Souza, Jr to the desert and left the Arizona Diamondbacks short in depth.
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The selection of Matt Koch could, or could not, be permanent. That obviously depends on his production and should Koch falter, right-hander Braden Shipley (0-1, 5.76 ERA in 10 appearances, three starts with Arizona last season), could be considered.
Now, Lovullo has to deal with the loss of Walker, who had two no-decisions in three starts this season. His 3.46 ERA for 13 innings represented equal numbers from last season.
In 28 starts a year ago, Taijuan Walker broke even with a 9-9 record, but his 3.49 ERA was credible. After telling Call to the Pen that Walker will likely be lost for the remainder of the season, Lovullo indicated the loss could be significant.
"“When I first heard the news about Taijuan (Tuesday), I wanted to believe he’ll be okay,” Lovullo said. “The information on him came as a surprise. We immediately put him on the disabled list and awaited further diagnosis.”"
After a partial tear was revealed, the surgery now will keep Taijuan Walker out until mid to late next season, at the earliest.
Whoever emerges in the rotation will have a rather formidable task to step into one of the best rotations in the majors. Coming in their home game Wednesday against the Giants, the Arizona pitching staff led the NL in ERA (2.93), opponents batting average (.212) — the lowest in the NL, the WHIP (1.11) topped the league, tied in wins (12), fourth in strikeouts per nine innings and sixth in total strikeouts.
If the Arizona Diamondbacks are to stay in the NL West race, then Taijuan Walker’s spot in the rotation needs to be addressed in the most expeditious manner. Torey Lovullo always looks for some level of stability and the coming weeks; his skill level will be tested.