Zach’s first outing of the spring went well

March 5th, 2012

In Zach’s spring debut, he pitched 3 innings while giving up 3 hits and 1 earned run.  He walked 2 batters and also hit another.  There were 2 double plays turned behind Zach while he was on the mound.  The Astros went on to lose the game 10-5.

Zach Duke, who’s also pitching for a rotation spot, pitched three innings in relief and allowed three hits, one run and two walks in his debut in a Houston uniform.

“He kept getting himself in trouble and getting himself out of trouble, too,” said Astros manager Brad Mills, who said Duke will get to start a game soon.

SOURCE: astros.com

Zach looks to catch on with the Astros

March 2nd, 2012

Spring training is about renewal and hope, or at least that is what Zach Duke is seeking. Signed to a minor league contract, the former All-Star is looking to regain his prior form and experience another unlikly playoff run.

Spring dreaming? Yes, but it could happen. Really, it has before. True, the Astros finished 40 games out of first place last year, but Duke experienced a worst-to-first resurgence firsthand last year with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Realistically, Duke knows the odds are much better that he will make the Astros by producing similar results to the first six seasons of his career for the Pittsburgh Pirates before being traded for a player to be named later to the Diamondbacks in 2011.

His best season came in 2009 when he went 11-16 and was named to the All-Star team as an injury replacement. In 1,041 career innings, the Texas native has a 4.56 ERA and a record of 48-74.

“It was all about the opportunity to reestablish my career,” said Duke, who signed with the Astros over several other clubs. “The last couple of years have been a roller coaster for me.”

A broken hand in spring training set the tone for a disappointing stint with the Diamondbacks. While playing on a team that went from last place in 2010 to wining the division last year was a “great learning experience,” the early injury set him back six weeks and he never regained arm strength. Worse, a control pitcher, he lost command of his pitches.

This spring, both are back.

“He has looked really good,” said Astros pitching coach Doug Brocail. “He knows in the past he was a strike thrower and he has struggled, but we are getting him back to throwing strikes and have the opportunity to help this club.”

Brocail and Duke studied the lefthander’s form from 2009 and made a slight tweak in his delivery.

“We have moved him over just a hair to get him on the plane of the plate,” explained Brocail, “We have him in the strike zone and he hasn’t left it.”

While manager Brad Mills indicated he is very much in the competition for a starting spot, Duke knows pitching out the bullpen is an option. Mills indicated Duke will be the second pitcher to see action in Monday’s Grapefruit League action against the Atlanta Braves, and the next appearance will start a game.

Duke merely wants the opportunity to be an Astro. He sees similarities between this year’s team and the 2011 Diamondbacks. Besides the abundance of newly infused talent, there is the same positive vibe in the clubhouse.

“You see a lot of new faces, guys that weren’t involved with the bad season last year,” said Duke, who resides in Fort Worth. “They are not familiar with the negative connotations that were associated with the team last year. Guys are coming in with a fresh attitude and the will to win, and that is what it takes.”

SOURCE: Fox Sports Houston

Zach will make his first appearance on Monday

February 29th, 2012

Duke threw a pair of 20-pitch sessions to live hitters on Wednesday and is scheduled to follow starter Jordan Lyles to the mound Monday against the Braves. Mills said Duke will likely start the game the next time their turn in the rotation comes up.

Duke has been used primarily as a starter in his career, but last year made 12 relief appearances from among his 21 games pitched for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“He’s thrown the ball very well,” Mills said.

SOURCE: astros.com

2/24 radio interview with 1560 The Game

February 27th, 2012

You can listen to it here.

Lots of competition for the rotation

February 22nd, 2012

“It’s going to be a battle, but I like challenges,” said Duke, who went 3-4 with a 4.93 ERA in 21 games (nine starts) for Arizona last year. “They say they’re going to take the best 25 and have the best team we can, and that’s what you’ve got to do. I’m excited for the opportunity, and I prepared myself in the off-season to give myself every chance.”

SOURCE: astros.com

Zach will get looked at as both a starter and a reliever

February 22nd, 2012

Before Astros pitchers and catchers hit the field early Tuesday for the second day of workouts, manager Brad Mills said left-handed pitcher Zach Duke, a non-roster invite to camp, would be looked at as both a starter and a reliever. Duke will make a couple of Grapefruit League starts, Mills said.

“We’re going to see what he’s able to bring to the table,” Mills said. “We’re going to give him a chance to start a couple of games, but he’s also pitched out of the pen, and when you have a lefty like that with his experience is an opportunity he might be able to earn a spot in the bullpen as well.”

Duke is 48-74 with a 4.56 ERA in his career, mostly with the Pirates. He’s pitched in 181 games, including 168 starts.

SOURCE: Tag’s Lines

 

A video from Tuesday’s work-out and Zach can be spotted a few times throughout:

What attracted Zach to Houston

February 20th, 2012

That’s part of what drew so many to the Astros — the chance to do on a rebuilding team what their peers on established contenders could not.

“The thing that really attracted me to Houston was the opportunity,” said lefthander Zach Duke, 28, who comes to camp on a minor league deal to compete for a rotation spot after he was part of the 2011 National League West champion Arizona Diamondbacks. “When you hear the manager and the front-office people talk about it, they’re big on opportunity here.”

Duke also liked what he saw from the roster, which is young and unpolished.
“I see potential,” he said. “I see a bunch of athletes. When you have athletic talent on the field, once you can harness that, it turns into wins pretty quickly.”

SOURCE: Ultimate Astros

 

Photos from the first workout can be seen here.

 

*I’m also still working on the site banner and changing it to Astros related.  Thanks.

Zach’s jersey number

February 10th, 2012

According to the Astros’ website, Zach will wear the #21.

Astros’ GM talks about signing Zach and others

February 10th, 2012

Adding players that have performance history, where they’ve done things in the past that appear they can help us here now, that was part of the equation. You look at guys like Jack Cust and Livan Hernandez and Zach Duke and Jed Lowrie, for that matter. These are guys that have done it at the big league level and proven they can play at this level. We wanted to make sure we added depth across all areas, starting pitcher and infield/outfield, etc., so that was part of it.

I think the other part of it was making sure we have enough choices so that, come late March, we’re making some decisions about who’s going to make this team and who’s going to be on that 25-man roster to start the year that gives us the best chance to get off to a good start, and doesn’t block the prospects or the players that are ready to come and ready to start contributing in a meaningful way.

It’s really a balance. We wanted to have some options, we wanted to have some choices and we wanted to allow our guys to continue to develop.

SOURCE: astros.com

Astros invite former All-Star Duke to camp

January 29th, 2012

The Astros have seen Zach Duke at his best, and they’re hoping to see it more frequently in 2012.

On Friday, the club announced it has signed the left-handed Duke to a Minor League contract with an invite to big league Spring Training camp.

Duke, a Texas native who resides in Fort Worth, spent last season with the D-backs after six seasons in the National League Central with the Pirates. In 181 Major League appearances, including 168 starts, he is 48-74 with a 4.56 ERA. He was an All-Star in 2009.

The 28-year-old Duke began the 2011 season on the disabled list with a fractured left hand after being struck by a line drive in a Cactus League game. He didn’t make his first start until May 28, and it happened to come against Houston. He tossed seven shutout innings in an 11-3 win and went on to go 3-4 with a 4.93 ERA and one save in 21 appearances, the bulk of which came in relief.

Duke averaged 31 starts per season from 2008-10, and he had an impressive rookie season in 2005, when he went 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA in 14 starts.

In six career appearances at Minute Maid Park, Duke has pitched pretty well, going 1-2 with a 3.41 ERA.

For his career, Duke has averaged 4.6 strikeouts and 2.4 walks per nine innings.

SOURCE: astros.com