Turnaround Pirate Pitcher Zach Duke Goes for His Eighth Pirates Victory Today

Zach Duke has had a remarkable turnaround season for the Pirates. He makes his 14th start of the season and is 7-4 with a 3.10ERA. In 93 IP he has given up 88 hits and 21 walks. He has had tremendous run support from the Pirate offense during his seven victories with 54 runs being scored for the lefthander, a 9.1 average. When he has been the losing pitcher, he has received a total of just 10 runs of support from his teammates.

Duke has tossed two complete games this season. He entered the year with only three in his career. He has a chance to surpass Jeff Suppan for the most complete games since Suppan threw three in 2003. The pitching has been THAT good for the Pirates this season. It seems a shame we are only 31-34 on the year with the combination of pitching and defense produced by the Bucs.

The lefthander has been hot this season, he has surrended two earned runs or less in eight of his 13 starts. And check this out, he has allowed one or less in six of those 13 starts. Duke does have a two game road losing streak he is attempting to snap this afternoon. For the year, Duke has been charged with two earned runs or less in five of his six starts on the road.

Last season was forgettable for Duke. He struggled with a 5-14 record and surely seemed like the most hittable pitcher in the big leagues. The difference this year? I believe it is the excellent coaching and Duke’s offseason approach with his focus on getting into the best shape of his career.

Hell, Duke is even doing it with the bat this year. He is hitting 231 with two doubles and two RBI. He has also sacrificed seven times on the year. He is putting it all together this season. Could we see him on the mound in a few weeks for the All-Star game?

Don’t count on it.

Today’s start will prove to be a challenging test for the southpaw and will seperate him from some of the close competitors in the minds of the coaching selection team. Will it be enough? It’s doubtful, but Duke has already captured the attention of the Pirates front office, his teammates and the fans with his impressive early season.

 

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