Zach Duke spent the offseason rehabbing from Tommy John surgery in October 2016. He debuted on July 21 and was entrusted with high-leverage situations right away, recording four holds in his first nine appearances. Duke then went through a rough patch, sitting with a 5.11 ERA and 1.38 WHIP with two weeks left in the season, only fanning six in 12.1 innings to that point. However, the southpaw whiffed seven in his final seven frames, allowing just one earned run to close out the season. With a fastball a few ticks below 90 mph, Duke is far from dominating, and he is not appreciably more effective in a LOOGY role. Duke showed enough down the stretch for the Twins to sign him to join their setup corps. Still, he isn't likely to rack up enough punchouts to be an asset, even in formats scoring holds.
Duke has agreed to a contract with Minnesota, pending a physical, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Duke had Tommy John surgery in October 2016, but returned in July. He had a 3.93 ERA in 18.1 innings. He had just a 5.9 K/9, however, with a 5.33 FIP. The Twins likely saw enough to think he'll improve in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. He could figure prominently in the team's setup corps as a result.
Duke fired a scoreless inning-plus in Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Cubs, allowing two hits and recording a strikeout. The 34-year-old lefty has hit his stride after a rough outing against the Padres on Aug. 22, as he's now strung together scoreless efforts in nine of his last 10 appearances. Duke has lowered his ERA from 6.75 to 5.11 over that stretch, although he's only worked as much as one inning in two of those appearances. He's seen occasional hold opportunities, but his lack of strikeout upside and still-bloated ERA have largely kept him from serious fantasy consideration.
Duke recorded his fifth hold in Thursday's 5-2 win over the Giants, getting one out in the ninth inning. Duke was part of the three-pitcher attack manager Mike Matheny opted to deploy in the ninth inning, as he disposed of Jarrett Parker to get the second out with Brandon Crawford on second. It was the fifth consecutive scoreless effort for the veteran southpaw, who yielded runs in only two of 13 August appearances. The 34-year-old continues to see a brisk workload and has lowered his ERA from 6.75 to 5.59 over the aforementioned scoreless streak.
Duke (0-1) allowed an earned run on a walk and also recorded a strikeout over one-third of an inning in Wednesday's 5-4 loss to the Red Sox. He was also credited with his fourth hold. The run that Chris Young scored on Mookie Betts' game-winning double off of John Brebbia went on Duke's ledger, snapping his six-appearance scoreless streak. The veteran lefty has been impressive despite Wednesday's stumble, amassing all four of his holds over the last six outings. However, considering the mileage on his arm and the fact that he's less than a year removed from Tommy John surgery, it remains to be seen how frequent a workload he'll see during the balance of the campaign.
Duke recorded his second hold in Wednesday's 8-5 win over the Royals, firing a scoreless seventh inning. Duke was razor sharp, firing eight of 10 pitches for strikes while posting his fourth straight scoreless effort. The 34-year-old southpaw has been impressive in his return from Tommy John surgery, generating a 3.38 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 5.1 innings across seven appearances.