The veteran reliever enjoyed his best season in several years, posting his lowest ERA (2.74) since 2010. The ERA was better than he deserved, although his strikeout and walk percentages (23.7 percent and 7 percent, respectively) were respectable and supported something in the mid-3.00s range. More than just a lefty matchup guy, Brian Duensing allowed a very similar wOBA to both lefties (.296) and righties (.290). Duensing likely won't be close to the top of the closer depth chart for whatever team he ends up with, giving him little appeal in most leagues, but he could provide some value in deep leagues that use holds.
Duensing and the Cubs agreed Wednesday on a two-year, $7 million contract, Jon Heyman of FanRagSports.com reports. An unremarkable reliever for much of his nine big-league seasons, Duensing earned a slight pay increase after submitting a career-best 2.74 ERA (3.41 FIP) across 62.1 innings in 2017, his first year with the Cubs. The 34-year-old lefty supported the ERA with an 8.8 K/9 rate -- also a career-best mark -- with increased usage in his off-speed pitches seemingly keying his success. Duensing, who proved similarly effective against both right- and left-handed hitters last season, should factor prominently into the setup mix ahead of new closer Brandon Morrow.
Duensing recorded his seventh hold of the season in Wednesday's win over the Reds despite allowing an earned run over two thirds of an inning. This is only the second time since July 1 that Duensing has allowed a run. During that span, he has a 1.20 ERA, 0.73 WHIP and five holds over 15 innings. For the season, Duensing has a 2.57 ERA and 1.08 WHIP, making him a valuable left-handed reliever for the Cubs.
Duensing picked up his second hold of the season in Friday's loss to the Yankees. He pitched 1.2 scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out two. Duensing came on for Kyle Hendricks with one out in the sixth, and he got the Cubs through the seventh with a lead that Hector Rondon blew in the ninth. Duensing had a 8.10 ERA at the end of April, but he's tossed 4.2 scoreless innings in May to get his ERA down to 4.76.
Duensing gave up three hits and three earned runs in an inning of work in Saturday's loss to the Pirates. In his second outing since being activated from the DL on Friday, the lefty was unable to hold a lead for Jake Arrieta. Duensing also allowed his first home run of the season, as Josh Harrison took him deep in the seventh inning.
The Cubs activated Duensing (back) off the 10-day disabled list Friday, Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald reports. He will take the roster spot of Carl Edwards Jr., who was sent to the bereavement list. Duensing will resume his role as mop-up arm or lefty matchup specialist.