Mandatory Credit:Brad Mills
-USA TODAY Sports
The Milwaukee Brewers have signed LHP Zach Duke to a minor league contract with an invite to Major League spring training. Duke split time between the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Reds in 2013.
Duke, 30, was drafted as a starter by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 20th round of the 2001 Amateur Draft. He has a career ERA of 4.57 in eight big league seasons. His best season came in 2005, his rookie year, when he made 14 starts, going 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA. That was the last season he garnered a winning record, although he did win 11 games in 2009.
The Brewers have been in the market for a left-handed reliever to fill the void left by recently departed Michael Gonzalez. As it stands now, with Will Smith still being considered for the rotation, the Brewers have only one southpaw in the bullpen, Tom Gorzelanny, who, coincidentally, played with Duke in Pittsburgh and Washington. But despite being a lefty, left-handed hitters batted .327 against him in 2013.
Duke will have every chance to make the team out of spring training and I’d put the odds at 50-50. If the Brewers want a veteran pitcher who just happens to throw with his left hand, then Duke is their guy. But if the Brewers want an effective arm out of the bullpen, they’d be wise to look elsewhere.