March 13, 2011
Duke Breaks His Hand
Zach Duke lacks the personal brand and flavor of an Adam Wainwright or Zack Greinke, but his injury news deserves some attention too. Nick Piecoro reports Duke has a broken pitching hand and will miss six-to-eight weeks, thereby effectively ensuring a spot on the disabled list to begin the regular season. It’s a rough start for Duke, who is coming off a career-worst season and had sights on a fresh start with the D-Backs.
Instead, Barry Enright seems likely to complete a rotation led by Dan Hudson and Ian Kennedy, but also featuring Joe Saunders and Armando Galarraga. Enright debuted last season and had an impressive 3.91 ERA in 99 big-league innings. Just about every component ERA metric in the world suggests Enright’s performance was a desert mirage, as his SIERA sat at 5.13. Nevertheless, PECOTA sees the difference between Duke and Enright as negligible:
Duke’s projection appears harsh. After all, he did manage a 4.78 ERA over the last three seasons despite generally poor supporting cases. The caveat here is PNC Park, which limits right-handed pop. Duke has still struggled against righties throughout his career (.309/.354/.469, or roughly the 2010 version of Martin Prado) and a move to hitter-friendly The BOB is not what the doctor ordered, meaning his ERA is likely to inflate from the change in home parks alone.
Anything can happen over a small sample size. The worst-case scenario here is Duke missing five or so starts, which means little if both pitchers were to throw exactly as PECOTA suggests. The volatility involved in 20-25 innings means Enright is probably going to perform better or worse than his projection. Fans will either love him or hate him for it, but ultimately, Enright instead of Duke is not going to alter the team’s remote playoff chances too much either way.