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4/19/1983 (33 y, 10 m)
2001 June Amateur Draft - Round: 20, Pick: 8, Overall: 594, Team: Pittsburgh Pirates
$15M / 3 Years (2015 - 2017)
Duke underwent Tommy John surgery and had his flexor muscle repaired last week, MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch reports. He is expected to miss the 2017 season. (10/14/2016)
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(Click Year to Expand /
Year in Review:
Duke shaved his ERA from 4.82 in 2008 to 4.06 in 2009, increasing his win total from five to 11 in the process. However, the lefty really didn't pitch all that differently. Duke's K/BB ratio did improve from 1.85 to 2.16, but the big change came in the performance of the defenders behind him. He was plagued by a .327 BABIP in 2008, but that figure fell to .296 in 2009. Otherwise, Duke was the same finesse southpaw we have come to expect: his 4.24 FIP was right around his career average. Duke's high-80s fastball was torched for -1.2 runs per 100 pitches, but his slider, curveball, and changeup all had positive run values. Sensibly, Duke threw a career-low percentage of fastballs in 2009. Mixing in more breaking stuff and changeups, he posted a 30% outside-swing rate, eclipsing his career 26% mark.
The Year Ahead:
Fantasy owners eyeing Duke should also monitor Pittsburgh's defensive alignment heading into the 2010 season. As a pitch-to-contact starter who often has the ball put in play against him, Duke is subject to the caprices of his defense. His ERA over the past three seasons has been all over the map as a result, from the low-4.00s last year to the mid-5.00s in 2007. The infield looks to be solid, with trade acquisition Akinori Iwamura, Ronny Cedeno and Andy LaRoche projecting as starters, and Andrew McCutchen has plus range in center field. Given Duke's climbing win totals and improved ERA marks over the past few years, some may be tempted to assume more improvement is on the way in 2010. Duke won't miss many bats, limits walks, and gets some grounders. But there's little potential for a breakthrough here: what you see is what you get. (David Golebiewski)
A decent back-end starter under the best of circumstances, Duke was dogged by a combination of shoddy defenders and poor luck in 2010. He pitched somewhat differently, recording his highest strikeout rate (5.43 K/9) since 2005 and the highest walk rate (2.89 BB/9) of his career, but Duke was still basically the same finesse lefty relying on DP-starting ground balls (48 GB%) and good control to compensate for shrug-inducing stuff. However, his ERA soared to 5.72 due to the second-highest BABIP (.347) among starters with 150+ innings pitched, a 65.5% strand rate (69.9% career average) and a 13.7% home-run per fly-ball rate (10% career average). Compounding matters, he missed nearly a month with a strained elbow. If Duke had fewer bloops falling for hits, better luck keeping runners from crossing the plate and a few less warning-track shots finding the bleachers, it would have been hard to tell 2010 from his past work -- Duke's expected FIP was 4.48. Traded to Arizona in November, Duke will be better in 2011. But the move to Chase Field won't do him any favors. According to StatCorner, the D-Backs' home boosted offensive production by 6% for lefty hitters and 7% for righties this past year. (David Golebiewski)
The Quick Opinion:
Duke has some real-world value as a ground-ball-centric lefty who limits walks, and his 2010 ERA isn't a reflection of his talent level. For fantasy purposes, however, you can ignore this piece of Pirates flotsam outside of NL-only leagues.
Zack Duke has been able to notch out an okay career as a pitcher by basically limiting walks. He is 16th out of 54 pitchers in walks per nine (2.44) from 2005 to 2011 with pitchers over 1000 innings pitched. He was also 22nd in home runs allowed with .93 home runs per nine. The problem is that he is 53rd out of 54 in strikeout rate (4.64) with .323 batting average on balls in play. Zack is just going to go out, throw strikes and hope the other team doesn't do too much damage. For these reasons, there is little, if any, reason to own him in any league in 2012. Another huge hit, besides being a bad pitcher, is that he may not even have a starting pitching job with the Diamondbacks. He could have some value as a spot starter in road games at run-suppressing stadiums like PETCO in San Diego. You know what you will get with Duke, the problem is that what you get is of no real fantasy value. (Jeff Zimmerman)
The Quick Opinion:
The Duke limits walks and home runs, but his complete inability to strike any player out may cost him a starting MLB job.
Zach Duke used to be a starter with low strikeout totals and now he's a reliever with low strikeout totals. His strikeout-to-walk rate in 2013 was less than two -- a fairly consistent number for him. He may turn into a decent mop-up guy, but that's probably where his ceiling stops. It's a low ceiling. Zach Duke is like that floor on Being John Malkovich. (David Temple)
Duke was less than an afterthought entering 2014, but he discovered himself in the Brewers bullpen. The transformation quietly began late in 2013 when he posted a 0.84 ERA, 5.91 strikeouts per nine, 1.69 walks per nine, and a 12.2% swinging strike rate (SwStr%) in 10.2 innings for the Reds. It was easy to dismiss the swing-and-miss stuff as small sample noise, especially since it didn't lead to strikeouts. Instead, he maintained the whiff rate (12.3 SwStr%) in 58.2 innings for the Brewers. This time, the strikeouts came in droves, as he posted a 11.35 K/9. His 2.45 ERA was accompanied by an even better FIP (2.14) and xFIP (2.09). Duke is entering his age 32 season. The southpaw was used situationally, but he actually featured even splits. The White Sox snagged him at a reasonable cost, and he could even fill in as an emergency closer behind David Robertson. (Brad Johnson)
The Quick Opinion:
The southpaw reliever broke out in 2014 just in time for free agency. His short track record is cause for concern, but he's not too far removed from a closer's job.
The proof that it's never too late to change, Duke followed up his out-of-nowhere (or rather, signaled but delayed) 2014 success with a solid, if unspectacular season out of the pen for the White Sox. His 4.62 FIP is a major concern because it points to a massive spike in walk rate, from steady ~7% for years to 12.6% in 2015. He got ahead in counts far less often, threw fewer pitches in the zone (down to 38.9%), and while he coaxed more swings on those pitches, he also gave up far more contact. There's also the matter of the 24.3% home run per fly ball ratio, something that wasn't backed up by a poor hard hit percentage and was mitigated some by the batted-ball profile. The heavy reliance on his two-seamer kept his ground ball rate strong and the dip in strikeout rate was to a still respectable 25.9% level, hence the ERA remaining strong at 3.41. The change to a dual release point remained pronounced, but might be key to his resurgence. A doubling in FIP is definitely worrisome. The walks are more concerning given the extreme nature of his home run rate, but the latter may be a cause to shelter him in more of a Lefty One Out GuY role. He'll enter the season as the Sox' top lefty. (Blake Murphy)
The Quick Opinion:
A feel good story in 2014 gave way to a bit of regression and problems with the free pass and long ball. Duke didn't get twice as bad despite the FIP doubling, but he's also not quite the lights out potential closer he appeared to be.
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Updated: Sunday, February 19, 2017 3:33 AM ET
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