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Minnesota Twins left-handed reliever Zach Duke has been around MLB for a long time. He was a highly touted starting pitching prospect while coming up in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. However, he never quite lived up to the hype as a starter.
Duke resurrected his career as a reliever while pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2014. He has been one of the most effective relievers in all of Major League Baseball since that time. Duke has a 2.85 ERA in 198 2/3 innings pitched during the last four seasons and continues to get big outs in big moments.
The Minnesota Twins will need him to continue his effectiveness in order to reach their goals this season. Duke is more than a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen and has consistently shown the ability to get outs against both right-handed and left-handed hitters. On top of that, he is still able to provide more than one inning of work, and that helps keep the bullpen balanced.
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What to expect from Duke in ’18
The Minnesota Twins may need to lean heavily on the bullpen, especially early, this season. Duke will play a major role in the Twins bullpen this season. He has reinvented himself as a strikeout pitcher since moving to the bullpen and that should continue in ’18.
He has averaged 10.0 K/9 over the previous four seasons. Although he pitched only 18 1/3 innings last season, he looks ready to make a difference for Minnesota. There is always the health caveat while talking about pitchers, and Duke is no different.
However, Duke has been able to remain relatively healthy and he will bounce back this season. Minnesota will need all arms on deck if they are going to contend with the Cleveland Indians. Predicting what a pitcher, let alone a reliever, will do year to year is almost impossible. However, there is no reason to think Duke won’t help the Twins reach the postseason this season.
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