Zach Duke to miss the 2017 season

Jenifer Langosch/

Lefty reliever Zach Duke, who made 28 appearances for the Cardinals after being acquired on July 31, will not make another in 2017.

General manager John Mozeliak confirmed that Duke recently underwent surgery to repair his ulnar collateral ligament as well as a forearm flexor muscle in his left arm. Recovery from the surgery is expected to take between 12 and 18 months.

“It’s definitely disappointing. He did a really good job for us, and I was looking at him as being a key member of that bullpen,” Mozeliak said. “We’ll look at it and figure out how to best solve this moving forward.”

This news has already thrown a wrinkle in the Cardinals’ developing offseason plans, as it will force the organization, Mozeliak acknowledged, to look more seriously at the reliever market.

As the Cardinals sought to fortify their bullpen at the Trade Deadline, they pursued Duke partially because he was also under contract next season. Now, the club is on the hook for the $5.5 million he is due in 2017. That is the final year of Duke’s contract.

The first indication that Duke was dealing with arm troubles came during the final week of the regular season. After pitching six times in a seven-day span, Duke was deemed unavailable by manager Mike Matheny for the team’s final series. At the time, Matheny cited arm discomfort and usage concerns as the reasons for being cautious.

Once the season ended, the Cardinals ran Duke through a series of medical exams. It was then that they discovered the severity of his injuries.

Combined between the Cardinals and White Sox, Duke made 81 appearances in 2016. Only San Diego’s Brad Hand tallied more. Duke finished with a 2.36 ERA and held opponents to a .217 batting average. He was even stingier after coming to the National League. With the Cardinals, Duke allowed five runs in 28 appearances while filling a set-up role.

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  1. Dave M

    Another Cardinal aquisition on the DL. This is exactly what happens when you go on the cheap/control option, instead of the proven winners. The Cubs got Chapman and we get the aged and infirmed. What’s next?

  2. Dave M

    Also, Chapman is a FA. Do you think we could pry him from the Cubs like they did to us with Lackey and Heyward? ( Although Heyward’s season was not as billed, he could still bounce back next year. ) Chapman would be huge for us. So would Justin Turner, because I don’t think Arizona would give up Pollock.

  3. Bob

    Well you called it on Cleveland Dave. And it was because the best reliever trade was Cleveland picking up Andrew Miller. LA is hanging in tough with Cubs though so could be interesting.

    With Pena, Walden, and Duke all down with injuries one wonders if the Cardinals use due diligence in assessing their pickups health wise. Will see what transpires in the off-season. Some of the Jays sluggers are FAs but there are attitude issues with Bautista which wouldn’t fit well with the Cardinal Way….

  4. haley

    Mozeliak interview just now. Moss not a probable return. Jaime might be worth keeping as back-up & future trade bait. I even think I heard Mo say that Jaime’s just as likely to throw a no-no, as anyone else we have. Hmmm, really?
    Three years added to Matheny’s contract today…so he’s in St Louis for the next 4 years. A CF search not their main concern this off-season. It’ll be more about WHO’S available, instead…regardless of position. I still think they’re gonna’ keep on eye on Pollock. ; )
    Mo thinks Oh’s cool, but not sure about an extension. Guess at 34 y/o, Mo’s not sure if an investment in Oh would get the expected return? Wow.

  5. haley

    I just texted a local sports guy, and he’s pretty sure Mo will try to keep Oh. He thinks Mo’s probably merely playin’ it cool for the time being.

  6. haley

    I looked up a good website called “Cots Contracts”, and it says that the Cards have a $2.5M option on Oh for 2017, which obviously Mo will pick up. But Mo could be interested in signing Oh for an additional year or two. That’s why Mo’s playing it cool I suspect. If he low-balls Oh for a 2-3 year extension added to this coming year? He doesn’t want Oh (rather his agent) to think that we need him. Only that we’d like to have him. Just the normal politics. Oh ain’t goin’ nowhere….at least in 2017.

  7. haley

    Oops, not only is our lefty Kiekhefer gone, but the D-Backs just snatched Hazelbaker too. Chatter says Mo will be looking for a Zach Duke LHP replacement during the off-season, and probably an outfielder for CF as well. From what I’ve read… Matheny & Mo wanna’ switch Grichuk to LF in Holliday’s old spot.

  8. haley

    Picked up a new guy from AAA Memphis. Switch-hitting (.341 in 2016), 24 y/o infield & outfield utility player Breyvic Valera.
    Pitchers Lynn, Maness, Lyons, Walden all activated from DL. Then Walden opts for free-agency a day or two later. Oh well….

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