Zach Duke’s addition to the bullpen provides new Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell with a veteran left handed option. However, Duke’s presence may also allow for fellow southpaw Amir Garrett to have maximum impact.
The signing of Zach Duke to a one-year deal worth $2 million is another excellent move by the Cincinnati Reds front office. While it may not garner the headlines of the trades completed earlier this offseason with the Dodgers and Yankees, the Duke signing checks many boxes for the Reds and will help maximize Amir Garrett‘s talents.
The 14-year veteran lefty specialist produced an excellent 59.4% ground ball rate last year splitting time between the Minnesota Twins and Seattle Mariners. Pitching within a division featuring left-handed hitting sluggers will surely make Duke earn that contract he just signed.
Power-hitting lefties such as the Milwaukee Brewers 2018 NL MVP Christian Yelich, the Chicago Cubs Anthony Rizzo and the St. Louis Cardinals Matt Carpenter all reside in the NL Central. But, while Duke’s skills will be put to the test against those division foes, it may be the Cincinnati Reds other left-handed reliever who’s the greatest beneficiary.
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Amir Garrett established himself as legit major leaguer over the course of the 2018 season. Appearing in 66 games, Garrett whiffed 71 hitters over 63 innings. Compiling an impressive 10.1 strikeouts per 9 innings, he has the type of stuff that should allow him to go multiple innings. Unfortunately, former interim manager Jim Riggleman chose to use the former starter in short stints throughout the 2018 campaign.
With the addition of Zach Duke, Garrett now has the opportunity to see action in high leverage situations earlier in games. Last year’s number indicate Amir Garrett can be equally effective when facing either left or right handed hitters.
Lefty’s slashed .220/.300/.426, while right handed hitters didn’t fare much better slashing .252/.336/.405. The 6’5″ former Division 1 basketball player surrendered 11 extra base hits to left-handers last year compared to 13 extra base hits to right-handers over those 63 innings.
David Bell has a plethora of bullpen options for this upcoming season. Closer Raisel Iglesias and set up men Jared Hughes and David Hernández provide a formidable late game trio. The addition of Duke solves many potential issues for the Reds bullpen. It grants Bell the luxury of utilizing right hander Michael Lorenzen and the 26-year-old Garrett earlier in contests before games may slip away.
In addition to an improved starting rotation the Cincinnati Reds can now throw a minimum of six quality bullpen arms at opposing line ups. The acquisition of Zach Duke will not only positively impact late game situations, but his presence makes the middle inning bullpen options strong as well.