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.
#Reds, looking to add to bullpen, are in serious discussions with lefty Zach Duke, sources tell me & @Ken_Rosenthal. Duke was with Reds for a little bit in ‘13. Allowed just 1 HR last year with Twins and Mariners
— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) February 1, 2019
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.