The Cincinnati Reds are still trying to “get the pitching” and C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic reports tonight that the team is in serious discussions with left-handed pitcher Zach Duke.

In the 2018 season, Zach Duke split time between Minnesota and Seattle. With the Twins he pitched in 45 games with a 3.62 ERA in 37.1 innings. He allowed 44 hits, no home runs, had 15 walks (4 intentional) and he struck out 39 batters. His time in Seattle was not nearly as good. With the Mariners he pitched in 27 games and threw 14.2 innings with a 5.52 ERA. He walked 6 hitters and had 12 strikeouts. He only gave up one home run for the Mariners. Between his two stops it totaled 52.0 innings and a 4.15 ERA.

As a left-handed reliever the first thing we all look for is how a guy performs against left-handed hitters. In 2018, Zach Duke was rather dominant. The sample size was small – he faced just 99 lefties – but he held them to a .220/.283/.319 line with 7 walks and 25 strikeouts. Things were not so strong against right-handed hitters. They hit .311/.403/.370 against him. Not much power, but he walked 14 batters with just 26 strikeouts in 141 plate appearances.

It would seem that for some reason he was used rather incorrectly most of the year, as he faced 42% more right-handed hitters than he did left-handed hitters despite numbers that clearly showed he was not nearly as good against them.

Over the span of his Major League career, dating back to 2005, Zach Duke has been a ground ball pitcher. Last year was the highest rate of his career, getting a ground ball 59.4% of the time a batter put the ball in play against him. If he’s used a tad differently in terms of the types of hitters he faces, he could be a very interesting pick up for the Cincinnati Reds bullpen.

28 Responses

  1. Matt Hendley

    Very nice news, please do tell, how did we lose him last time?

  2. Klugo

    You think incumbent pitching staff is getting the message?

  3. CP

    Doug do you think Duke would truly be an upgrade over the in house candidates that remain for the spot open in the pen?

    • Doug Gray

      It’s certainly possible, especially if they are looking for a LOOGY type of guy. I don’t think they want Amir Garrett to be only a LOOGY. And I’m not sure any other lefty has a clear and better resume heading into the spring than Duke among the other internal guys.

      • matthew hendley

        The only person that has hurt Cody Reed, is Cody Reed. He has had opportunity’s in multiple years for the rotation and squandered them all. If he ends up in AAA again, so be it.

  4. Mondo Duke

    That puts the Reds over the top. Start popping bottles, start popping bottles.
    If they bring Zach Duke in that probably means Cody Reed will be in AAA rotation.
    No relation.

  5. Matt Hendley

    So hypothetically we sign him. Who gets the dfa?

  6. Eddiek957

    I’m sure it will be a minor league deal

  7. WVRedlegs

    This could help shore up a weakness. He is very familiar with NL Central. There isn’t a whole lot out there regarding LH relievers. Duke probably gets a ML contract. That could mean a 40 man move will need to be made. Unless a Realmuto trade is completed beforehand. Like tomorrow. That will take 2 or 3 off the 40 man roster. If not that could bump Aquino off.

    • BK

      Aquino was removed prior to the Rule 5 draft. Lopez and Reyes seem most vulnerable to me.

  8. Eric the Red

    I could very well be wrong, but I have a vague memory that when he was with the Reds he was considered to be better against RH batters than LH batters despite being a LH pitcher. That might explain his being used “incorrectly” last year, and complicate any analysis that predicts he could be an effective LOOGY, unless he’s changed something.

    • Shchi COssack

      The problem with evaluating handedness is sample size. From one season to the next, small samples can dramatically change. Duke’s handedness in 2018 closely mirrored his career handedness.

      Career (v LH): 3.46 FIP; 3.40 xFIP; 3.16 K/BB; 0.80 HR/9
      Career (v RH): 4.32 FIP; 4.39 xFIP; 1.76 L/BB; 0.88 HR/9

      2018 (v LH): 2.60 FIP; 3.18 xFIP; 3.57 K/BB; 0.39 HR/9
      2018 (v RH): 3.34 FIP; 4.20 xFIP; 1.86 K/BB; 0.00 HR/9

  9. Ramos

    Doug I’ve gotta say, please cool it on Twitter. Between your righteous crusades against Pete rose (who cares), constant complaining about owners (fine) and tweeting of every thought that pops into your head from computer complaints to which way the wind is blowing, it’s becoming unbearable. You have a chance to become a modern day reds pillar and voice and you’re squandering it. Just offering constructive critisicm. I like you and your content, but my twitter feed has become the life and whimsical thoughts of Doug Gray. Back to basics my friend!

  10. CFD3000

    Can’t say I’m excited about this news. But if I squint a little and look from a funny angle the positive spin could be that neither Amir Garrett or Cody Reed would be relegated to LOOGY duty, and he’d probably be an upgrade over Wandy Peralta. Reed needs to start somewhere, and Garrett also has too much potential to be used in such a limited way. But that’s still a lot of qualifiers to justify adding a pitcher who probably will be mediocre at best. Pass.

    • Shchi Cossack

      You detailed the specific reasons why this possible acquisition improves the roster CFD. This would certainly not be a world-changing addition, but it improves the team and sets the situation for future improvement. The Reds have no reliable LOOGY and Duke would fill that role nicely. This frees up Garrett to fill a multi-inning reliever role and move Reed down to AAA as a starter-in-waiting.

  11. Scott C

    Definitely an upgrade from Wandy Peralta. I think it would be a good move. It would allow Garrett and possibly Reed although I would rather see Reed in Louisville starting if he is not starting in Cincinnati. The depth of pitching will continue to get deeper.

  12. Roger Garrett

    Good teams have a guy that can come in and get lefties out in high leverage situations but don’t we already have that in Garrett or Reed or maybe Krol.I would like to think we need guys that could go multiple innings and get righties and lefties out.My thoughts are he is a soft tossing lefty that could not go more then one batter or one inning and when asked to do more would get exposed especially to the long ball.Just think we could do better but it will be how he is used.Heck our starters could get us to the 6th or 7th and his one batter appearance could be all he is needed to do.

  13. Streamer88

    Introducing “cagey” veterans to our mix would frighten me in the past but mainly because of incompetence at the manager and front office levels.

    It’s funny to say because David Bell has not yet managed a game for the Reds, but I trust his ability to utilize the Dukes and Krals of this offseason to win games and develop young talent, in close concert with DW.

    Is this sentiment shared?

    • matthew hendley

      No, While David Bell is certainly being set up for success better then Brian Price ever was ( a point I am sure he is sore about) I am not willing to pass judgement on his abilities until May 1st. One can hope the use is correct. In addition, it is not for the GM or the DBO or whatever it is being called this promotion, I mean week, to actually run the games. For that to be evaluated, there actually needs to be games. TO evaluate the GM, we will have to see how the season runs out. DW and NK still have the July decisions one way or another to take.

    • greenmtred

      My heart shares the sentiment because it’s sick of being discouraged about the Reds and has happily finished the nice glass of Kool-Aid. My head is holding back, but just a little, because it, too, is sick of being discouraged.

  14. Matt Esberger

    I think he was previously with the Reds in 2nd half 2013. If can get for cheap he can be an asset in mid-late inning situations against likes of Rizzo, Schwarber, Yelich, Carpenter. He tailed off in Sea last year but the K/9 is still near 9.0 and doesn’t give up the gopher ball very often.

  15. matthew hendley

    We will see if it a MLB or Minors deal, and if it a MLB who loses out,