Cardinals lefty Zach Duke has undergone Tommy John surgery and also had work done to his flexor muscle, according to MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch (via Twitter). He’ll miss all of the 2017 season, after which time he is set to reach free agency.
Duke, 33, reinvented himself as a reliever after beginning his career as a mediocre starter. A redemptive 2014 season earned him a three-year, $15MM contract with the White Sox. He had delivered 98 1/3 frames of 3.11 ERA ball to Chicago heading into this year’s trade deadline, striking out 9.9 but walking 4.4 batters per nine in that span.
St. Louis didn’t make any major splashes in the summer trade market, but did ship outfielder Charlie Tilson to the White Sox to add Duke. In doing so, the club sought not only to bolster its pen from the left side down the stretch in 2016, but also to get out ahead on its shopping list heading into 2017.
Duke provided the Cards with 23 1/3 quality frames, posting a 26:13 K/BB ratio and allowing just five earned runs on 17 hits. He has been brutal for opposing lefties in recent years, and continued that trend in 2016.
While St. Louis won’t enjoy Duke’s presence in the 2017 pen, it will remain obligated to him for the final $5.5MM of his deal. While there are internal options available, led by Kevin Siegrist, the loss could well have a rather substantial impact on the team’s offseason plans. It squarely puts the club in the market for another southpaw, and perhaps even adds to the case for picking up the option of southpaw Jaime Garcia — who could conceivably be utilized in a swingman role.