Jul 11, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Zach Duke (59) pitches in the sixth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
The bullpen of the Chicago White Sox just got a lot better as the team announced the signing of free agent left-handed pitcher Zach Duke to a three-year deal.
Duke will earn $15 million over the next three seasons, with 2015 bringing him $4.5 million, followed by $5 million in ’16 and $5.5 million in ’17.
The 31-year old reliever will be a big upgrade to a bullpen that struggled a lot this past season.
In a release by the White Sox, it says of the newest reliever:
"“Duke’s 74 appearances tied for seventh in the National League, while his average of 11.35 strikeouts per 9.0 IP ranked 11th. Among NL lefty relievers, he finished in the Top 10 in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3rd, 4.35), walks per 9.0 IP (3rd, 2.61), wins (T3rd), ERA (4th), WHIP (4th, 1.13), games (T4th), inherited runners scored percentage (6th), strikeouts (7th), home runs per 9.0 IP (7th, 0.46), IP (T7th) and opponents average (8th).”"
The press release also said of Duke:
"“Duke made 14 consecutive scoreless appearances from April 12-May 10 (13.1 IP) and 16 in a row from June 22-July 30 (14.2 IP) and was voted Milwaukee’s Pitcher of the Month for July.”"
This a a very good signing, and I honestly don’t believe they overpaid for him, either. Even if it is a little much, remember how inconsistent the bullpen was in ’14, so my belief is they need to spend money to make the bullpen product better.
The bullpen cost the White Sox at least 10 wins in ’14, which would have made a bit of a difference in the race for the AL Central title.
In ’14, the White Sox bullpen finished with an ERA of 4.38 in 471 innings pitched. In that span, they totaled just 36 saves and 68 holds. They also allowed 229 earned runs and finished with 379 strikeouts.
The WHIP of the White Sox bullpen was 1.51 and allowed 37 home runs.
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Chicago also released a statement from General Manager Rick Hahn on Duke:
"“Very early on, we identified Zach as one of the best left-handed free agents available this offseason, so we are very pleased he agreed to join the White Sox,” said Rick Hahn, White Sox senior vice president/general manager. “He addresses an important need in our bullpen by giving Robin Ventura a veteran left-handed option late in games.”"
Duke is also a former All-Star with the Pirates in 2009 and is a former starting pitcher turned reliever.