Tonight the Mets face a 27 year old former all-star, and he's left-handed. Will it be a long night for the Metsies?
Zach Duke, 6'2", 205 pounds out of Texas, is in his 4th year with the Pirates after being drafted in the 20th round of the 2001 draft. He finished 5th in the rookie of the year voting in 2005 after going 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA, but he's 36-66 for his career since then. His career ERA is now 4.47 and his WHIP is 1.48. The turning point in his career seemed to be in 2007 after having elbow trouble; he hasn't been the same pitcher since. He has fared well against the Mets though, as he's 4-1 (7 career starts, 46 1/3 innings), with a 2.91 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, including a win versus the Mets on August 22nd, when he went 7 innings, allowed 1 run on 5 hits, 2 walks and recorded 5 strikeouts.
Duke's stuff doesn't seem impressive on paper. He has a very deliberate delivery and throws from a high 3/4s arm slot. He does hide the ball well, and he needs to, as his fastball averages 87 mph. He also throws a 72 mph curve, 81 mph plus change and 79 mph slider. The only plus pitch this year (and for his career) has been his change-up. He loves to throw the ball away, and rarely throws inside. He's throwing strikes a career low 44%, and getting a meager 6.8% swing and miss rate. That combination has resulted in a career high W/9 rate (2.9 W/9 which is still decent), but only 5.5 K/9 rate which is not good.
This year Duke is 7-13 (25 starts, 138 1/3 innings) with a 5.47 ERA and 1.64 WHIP. In his last 3 starts he's thrown 11 1/3 innings combined and allowed 12 runs on 20 hits and 6 walks. In his last start he only lasted 1 inning, allowed 4 runs on 6 hits, walking 2 and striking out 0.
For those wondering how he made an all-star team last year, you can thank the selection system that every team needs a representative. Duke was 8-8 before the All-star break, but then fell apart in the 2nd half, going 3-8 with a 5.17 ERA in 14 starts.
It seems a bit much for the Pirates to be paying Duke 4 million this year for that performance, and he may be a non-tender candidate this off-season.