Free agent Justin Duchscherer wants to pitch as a starter, and the Pirates have holes in their rotation. Duchscherer can be had for less than $2 million a year, and the Pirates are a, ahem, value-minded club.
A perfect fit! Draw up the contract. Schedule the press conference.
Not so fast.
The Pirates took a long look at Duchscherer last winter, but he wound up re-signing with the A’s for $1.75 million. The right-hander made five starts and went 2-1 with a 2.89 ERA, then went down with another season-ending injury.
Durability is a huge concern. Duchscherer missed most of the 2007 season with a gimpy right hip. He sat out all of 2009 while recovering from elbow surgery and battling clinical depression. This past season, he went down with a bad left hip. Over his past two seasons as a full-time starter (2008 and ’10), Duchscherer has made a total of 27 starts and pitched just 169 innings.
Still, an injury-riddled past doesn’t necessarily mean the Pirates will rule out Duchscherer. Remember, last year they picked up Aki Iwamura (who was hampered by a bum knee) and signed free-agent pitcher Neal Cotts (who had setbacks while on the mend from Tommy John surgery and never pitched for the Pirates).
If he somehow manages to stay healthy next year, Duchscherer could end up being a bargain for some team. Duchscherer’s career splits are pretty much the same as a starter (14-11, 3.01 ERA, 1.10 WHIP in 32 games/194.1 innings) or as a reliever (19-14, 3.22 ERA, 1.16 WHIP in 192 games/260.1 innings) — solid numbers, either way.