Brewers sign LHP Zach Duke to minor league deal

Andy Lyons

The former Pirate has a 4.57 ERA over nine MLB seasons.

At least the minor league activity is picking up this week.

Today the Brewers announced they've signed left hander Zach Duke to a minor league deal and invited him to spring training. Duke is 30 and a nine-year MLB veteran, having appeared in the majors with the Pirates, Diamondbacks, Nationals and Reds. He has a 4.57 career ERA over 215 appearances, including 169 starts.

Duke was an All Star in 2009 but has hit a rough patch in what you'd expect to be the prime of his career, posting a 5.32 ERA over the last four seasons in his age 27-30 campaigns. He's been released by both the Astros and Nationals in the last 24 months.

There is some reason for optimism with Duke, though: He wrapped up the 2013 season with 14 appearances for the Reds and allowed just one earned run over that time. The Reds used him primarily as a situational lefty during that stretch, and opposing batters hit just .205/.244/.308 against him over that time.

According to FanGraphs Duke has an upper 80's fastball, a slider he used more than ever in 2013, a curveball and a changeup. Over the course of his career the changeup has been his best pitch.

With Duke, Tom Gorzelanny (if healthy), Will Smith (if not needed in the rotation) and Rule 5 selection Wei-Chung Wang all in major league camp, the Brewers should have plenty of lefty relievers to consider for the Opening Day roster.

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