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Duke battles delivery flaw


For the second year in a row, lefty Zach Duke had a bumpy second half of the season.

Over his final 10 starts this season, Duke went 3-5 with a 6.57 ERA. In 50 2/3 innings, he allowed 70 hits and 19 walks. “There were times I got a little lost within myself, really just searching for anything on the mound,” Duke admits.

However, Duke went into the offseason knowing what he needs to fix. Ray Searge, who became pitching coach midway through the season, spotted a flaw in Duke’s delivery.

“He had too much of a pause when he made his turn,” Searge said. “He would start smooth, then stop and then have to go zero to 60. He’d be going out too quick, so his body was ahead of his arm. At least now we know what the disease was, and we have the cure.”

With his timing out of sync, Duke became even more of a contact pitcher. His batting average against this past season was .321, the second-highest mark of his career (behind .359 in 2007).

“My arm needs to be a little quicker,” Duke said. “What (the pause) did was make me easier to time. If you look at a guy like Cliff Lee, who has a very short arm action and a very quick delivery, guys just don’t seem to catch up with his fastball. I used to have a little bit of that, and that’s what we’re trying to get back to.”

»»» There’s been a time change for one of the Pirates’ spring training games. The March 18 game against the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla., will start at 7:05 p.m.



  1. Chuck H. says:

    C’mon Pirates, Zack Duke will never be a winning pitcher, The last part of the season, he did not get ahead of the hitters and had too many telegraphed pitches to the hitters. He can’t throw hard enough to fool the hitters either. If you will notice, it takes raw speed to get people out, The harder you can throw it, the better.

  2. John Lease says:

    Sure, a flaw from the Pirates perspective, but a god send to all the OTHER teams.

  3. fred says:

    So NOW…..they figure Duke out….I don’t buy it. He will never be anything but a BP hitting machine.

  4. Groat2Maz2Strangeglove says:

    Thanks for printing something real about baseball and the Pirates.
    I’ve been feeling like a man dying of thirst in the desert, with the few
    updates only having to do with “Will we hang ourselves from the
    Banister or won’t we?”
    I’d love for Zach Duke to get one more shot to win here. It’s not as if
    we have anyone to replace him.
    He will end up being like Matt Capps: going to another team and
    proving his value by winning 15 games.
    But he has to go to a team that catches the ball, not one with
    Ronnie Cedeno at shortstop!!

  5. Ernest says:

    >If you will notice, it takes raw speed to get people out

    What a load of BS. When was the last time Moyer hit 90? 1989?

    How about Wakefield, Neikro, etc. Not fast guys. You don’t need to be fast to get people out.

    I like how nobody questions hit motivation level as it became clear the team wasn’t in the running this season, again, like every other year he’s been in the majors. Losing and losing and losing can get to a guy.

    Then there is the porous defense. He’s the type of pitcher that needs a decent defense behind him. The Pirates blew chunks on defense this year.

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