In dire need of relief pitchers, the Chicago White Sox made it their mission to sign one. According to Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago, the White Sox have signed left-handed reliever Zach Duke to a three-year, $15 million contract. The team later confirmed the deal via an announcement. Jon Morosi of FOX Sports first reported that his deal was a multi-year pact.
Zach Duke had a superb season out of the bullpen for the Milwaukee Brewers last season. Duke, 31, posted a 5-1 record, along with an outstanding 2.45 ERA in 74 games pitched. In 58.2 innings he produced an 8.10 K/9, 2.32 BB/9, 0.72 HR/9 and a 2.09 FIP, as well as a 1.3 fWAR. Duke also had a 57.7% ground ball rate.
Duke was very effective when it came to getting lefties out this past year, holding them to a .198/.267/.302 split. Righties didn’t do much better, hitting just .242/.288/.298.
Duke started out his career back in 2005 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, finishing fifth in the NL Rookie of the Year award voting, going 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA over 84.1 innings pitched in fourteen games (all starts). However, over the next five seasons with Pittsburgh he made 145 starts and only twice was he able to pitch over 200 innings (2006, 2009). Unable to duplicate his rookie season, he pitched to a 4.80 ERA in 879.2 innings in the Pirates’ starting rotation.
Ever since his days with the Pirates, Duke has bounced around from organization to organization – spending time with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds, and Washington Nationals before signing a deal with the Brewers in January of 2014.
With his fastball velocity dropping to 89.7 MPH, Duke began to work in his slider and curveball more. This all contributed to the increasing his ground ball rate. He also started to use his two-seam fastball more, rather than relying on his four-seam and changeup. Duke also attributed some of the effectiveness of this past season to a change in his arm angle, dropping it down to an almost sidearm delivery.