Exit Interview 2017: Zach Duke

For the sixth straight year, we’re taking a look back at everyone that played for the St. Louis Cardinals this season.  Whether they were a major contributor or a bit player, here all year or for just a little while, we’ll look at their season and talk about what went right and what went wrong.  The stat line listed is just their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers in the discussion may be for the entire year.  Imagine this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a little review on their way home for the winter.  As always when you see incredible artistry in the blogs, all credit for the header work goes to @cardinalsgifs.

Player: Zach Duke

Season stats: 1-1, 3.93 ERA, 27 games, 18.1 IP, 13 H, 6 BB, 12 K, 1.036 WHIP, 5.29 FIP, 0.2 bWAR

Hero/Goat: Hero 1, Goat 2

Overall grade: C+

Positives: Returned and contributed after undergoing Tommy John surgery last October….went unscored upon in seven of his first eight appearances….finished the year with four scoreless innings, stranding nine baserunners during that span….stranded the last 17 runners he inherited going back until the end of August….limited righties to a .148 average….batters overall hit .197 against him….had a 2.08 ERA for the month of September….batters hit just .163 if they took the first pitch….batters only had a .524 OPS when they were ahead in the count….the first batter he faced put up a .472 OPS….with two out and runners in scoring positions, hitters went .143/.250/.286….was solid with zero days’ rest, allowing a .634 OPS.

Negatives: Was worse against lefties than righties (.661 OPS) which is an issue for a LOOGY….had a 4.66 ERA in 13 games at Busch….batters had a .967 OPS when nobody was out….they also had a .922 OPS with runners in scoring position….pitched mainly in low leverage situations and hitters nicked him for a .286 average in 10 high leverage plate appearances….had a 10.80 ERA in the ninth inning (1.2 IP)….gave up four hits in seven AB against the Padres.

Overview: Given that he only pitched about 18 innings after returning from the surgery, it’s a little hard to find meaning in Duke’s season.  He did help give another reasonable option to the bullpen for August and September and should definitely get kudos for his quick return.  It’s probably not too surprising that he was a little more inconsistent than he’d been the last couple of years, though he was only charged with a run in five of his 27 appearances.  There were a lot of issues with the bullpen, but usually Duke wasn’t one of them.

Outlook: Duke has said he’d like to return to the Cardinals, but there are a lot of lefties already in the bullpen and while Duke’s return was solid, it wasn’t anything overwhelming.  It feels like the Cards could upgrade there or decide to save money by using Ryan Sherriff as a lefty specialist.  I wouldn’t be disappointed if Duke returned but it feels like it’d be best if he found another spot to ply his trade.  That really shouldn’t be a problem given that he’s a lefty, he’s got a heartbeat, and he’s fairly effective.

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