Zach Duke was one of several pitchers acquired by the Cincinnati Reds over the offseason. But after underperforming during Spring Training and the beginning of the 2019 season, it’s time to move on.
Zach Duke was signed to a one-year deal by the Cincinnati Reds on February 11th after heading into free agency following his 2018 season with the Seattle Mariners. Duke’s Spring Training was very underwhelming and after a rough start to 2019, it’s time for the Reds to show Duke the door.
Duke, now in his 15th major league season, has bounced around quite a bit over the years. He has played with 9 of the 30 MLB teams in both the National and American Leagues, including some time in Cincinnati back in 2013.
Duke didn’t exactly have an outstanding season in 2018, but he wasn’t much worse than most of last year’s Reds pitching staff. Duke went 5-5 with a 4.15 ERA. He had 51 strikeouts and walked 21 batters in 52 innings pitched over 72 games.
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In Spring Training, Duke sported a 8.10 ERA, appearing in 10 games for one inning each outing. So far in the regular season Duke has pitched in 7 games with a 9.00 ERA. He has given up 4 hits and 4 earned runs.
Allowing opposing teams to score 4 runs probably does not seem like a lot until you realize that the Reds pitching staff has given up a collective 46 runs so far this season and have the third lowest ERA of every team in the National League.
Duke has been less than impressive and the Cincinnati Reds are still carrying 13 pitchers on their 25-man roster. I know David Bell said very early on that it was always his intention to keep so many pitchers on the roster to provide some depth to the bullpen. However, this year’s starting pitching has been excellent, alleviating the need right now for 13 pitchers.
The Cincinnati Reds’ starting rotation has given up a total of 24 runs with 17 of those charged to Tanner Roark and Anthony DeSclafani. The depth of the rotation and the ability they have shown to get deeper and deeper into games and keep the ball on the ground.
I’m beginning to think that having that additional pitcher is unnecessarily filling a spot on the roster. More than likely if Duke is sent out, the Reds will bring in another pitcher; either Cody Reed or Sal Romano. However, my suggestion would be to designate Duke for assignment and open the roster spot up for a position player.
David Bell has proven to be a manager who is willing to use a pinch hitter, and only carrying four players on the bench does not always allow for those opportunities. Granted they do have a proven two-way player in Michael Lorenzen, but if the starting pitching can remain on its current trajectory, having an extra bullpen arm may be a luxury.
After the long offensive slump we saw in the first week of the season, I find myself wondering if having some extra depth on the bench could have made any difference.
Scooter Gennett will eventually be back. Having him back will be nothing but good for the Reds offense. However, with as valuable as both Derek Dietrich and Jose Iglesias have been, it’s hard to see the Reds bench not becoming a bit overcrowded if there are 13 pitchers on the roster.
Phillip Ervin had an outstanding Spring Training, though he has struggled some since beginning his season in Triple-A Louisville, only slashing .148/.281/.148. Ervin did draw the spot as the 26th man on the roster during the weekend series against the Cardinals in Mexico and recorded a triple in his first at-bat.
There is also the impending debut of Nick Senzel to consider. He is reportedly out of his walking boot and on the mend. I cannot remember a more anticipated major league debut than Senzel’s.
With his versatility, playing both the outfield and the infield, and offensive ability; I think getting Nick Senzel on the 25-man roster as soon as possible is a good idea. Moving Duke off the roster would be a way to bring one of these players up and still keep the position players they have on the roster.
Any way you look at it, it’s clear that Duke has become a liability that the Cincinnati Reds cannot afford to have in their bullpen. There are other players, both position players and other pitchers, who would be more valuable to the Reds at this point. It’s time for Duke to head out.