After waiting patiently all winter, the Brewers have now made a big splash in free agency, announcing the signing of LHP Zach Duke Wednesday to a minor league deal, two days after signing Greg Golson to another minor league deal. Duke, 30, will be invited to major league camp with Milwaukee.
Duke, an All Star with Pittsburgh in 2009, spent time with Washington and Cincinnati last year, posting a 6.03 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, and 4.20 FIP in 31.1 innings. After struggling with the Nationals, Duke was released and signed by the Reds, where he showed signs of improvement. Before posting a 0.84 ERA in 10.2 innings with the Reds, he had a 1.30 ERA, 11.1 K/9, and 1.1 BB/9 with the Louisville Bats, the AAA affiliate of Cincinnati.
Over a nine-year career, Duke is 50-76 with a 4.57 ERA, 4.28 FIP, and ERA- of 110 (where 100 is league average). In 2013, he relied most heavily on his sinker, mixing in a curve, slider, changeup, and four-seam, in descending order of usage. Over his career, his changeup (thrown 15.8% of the time) is his most effective pitch, worth 30.5 runs above average. His turnaround in September with the Reds can be attributed largely to stopping throwing his high-80’s four-seam, which opponents slugged 2.000 off in May and June.
General manager Doug Melvin has said the Brewers were still searching for additional bullpen arms, which most likely explains the signing of Duke. Though signed to a minor league deal, Duke is invited to participate in major league camp and compete for a roster spot with Milwaukee.