September 30: Pirates (56-102) @ Marlins (77-81)
As the Pirates begin their final four-game series of the season, you have to wonder if this is going to be the last time Pirates fans see Zach Duke take the mound in black and gold. It is not a foregone conclusion that Duke won’t be back. There’s also no guarantee he will.
The lefty is about to be arbitration eligible for the third time, and that means his $4.3 million salary will likely tick up to close to $6 million. That is, of course, if the Pirates decide to give him a contract. Given Duke’s struggles this year and inconsistencies in years’ past, it seems unlikely that the Pirates will be willing to allocate that much to Duke.
Now, there is always the chance that the Pirates non-tender Duke and then try to sign him back at a lower cost (same route Pittsburgh tried with Matt Capps last winter), but that doesn’t mean Duke will choose to return.
If Duke’s career in Pittsburgh is about to come to an end, he’ll leave with more wins at PNC Park (31) than any other pitcher. In 159 games (158 starts) with the Pirates, Duke has gone 45-69 with a 4.52 ERA.
Duke vs. FLA: 0-4 in 6 starts, 30.2 IP, 47 H, 21 ER, 2 HR, 10 BB, 21 K
Volstad vs. PIT: 0-2 in 2 starts, 8 IP, 8 H, 9 ER, 2 HR, 3 BB, 3 K
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