Chicago White Sox Sign Zach Duke: One That Got Away From Cincinnati Reds


Aug 20, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Zach Duke (59) during the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

If you had to pick one area where the Cincinnati Reds struggled most in 2014, what would that be? If you’re like most Reds fans, you’d say left field, and you wouldn’t be wrong. But right there with LF (and the offense in general) was the relief pitching, especially in the middle innings. Funny thing is, though, that the Reds had one of 2014’s best relievers in their hands just a year ago, and they let the Milwaukee Brewers sign him for a piddly minor league contract. On Tuesday, Zach Duke cashed in on his rub-it-in-your-face-Walt-Jocketty season by signing a three-year, $15-million contract with the Chicago White Sox, as reported on the team’s Facebook page.    

More from Cincinnati Reds

Wins and losses aren’t everything — well, OK, they are, but not when talking about pitching stats — but they tell a compelling story when it comes to the Reds’ relievers in 2014. According to, the Cincinnati compiled an 11-31 record, seven games worse than that of the next-worse unit, the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Granted, closer Aroldis Chapman is included in that mark, and he went 0-3, but the Reds’ pen was really bad.

Duke, on the other hand was really, really awesome.

A blah starter for six years for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Duke was thrust into a sometimes-relief role when he landed with the Arizona Diamonbacks in 2011. He continued to come out of the pen in 2012 and 2013 for the Washington Nationals, but the results were nothing spectacular. So tepid was his performance that the Nats released him before July of  2013, allowing the Reds to nab him on a minor league deal.  From that point until the end of the season, Duke made 14 appearances for the Reds, allowing 10 base runners in 10+ innings, a performance that earned him … nothing with the Reds, but another minor league deal, this one with the Brewers.

In Milwaukee in 2014, Duke picked up right where he left off for the Reds, crafting a 2.45 ERA in 58.2 innings over 74 appearances. He threw in 74 strikeouts for good measure and ended up with a 1.1.25 WHIP and a 155 ERA+.

It’s just too bad that the Reds haven’t been able to find any good, affordable players.