In a largely under-the-radar move, the Nationals added some pitching depth to the organization when they signed left-hander Zach Duke to a minor league contract last Thursday. Duke, 28, had been released by the Houston Astros just two days prior after failing to impress during Spring Training, pitching to an 11.30 ERA and an 0-3 record. He’ll likely work out of the rotation for Triple-A Syracuse.
Duke does have a fair amount of Major League experience to his credit. He spent the first six years of his career working out of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ rotation. In 160 games (159 starts) he posted a 45-70 record with a 4.54 ERA, 4.7 K/9, and 2.5 BB/9, pitching 964.1 innings. He spent the 2011 season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, appearing in 21 games including 9 starts. He finished the season 3-4 with a 4.93 ERA in 76.2 innings.
Duke is your typical low risk signing and likely won’t be costing the team a significant amount. Presumably it would take a number of things to happen for Duke to get the call to Washington, as I’d estimate there could be at least 4 options ahead of him should the team need a spot starter, but you can never have too much pitching depth.