Skip to content

Zach Duke is no Jack Morris

Sep 28, 2009, 5:44 PM EDT

Not that Jack Morris was really Jack Morris anyway. The myth that Morris racked up his big win totals by pitching to the score is mostly just that, a myth.
Zach Duke, though, will never be accused of pitching to the score, at least not in 2009. The 26-year-old left-hander has turned his career around by going 11-15 with a respectable 3.94 ERA for a bad Pirates team. That’s a .423 winning percentage for a club that’s at .381 overall. However, the truth is that he could have been far better had he divvied up some of those RAs differently.
Remarkably, just once all year has Duke won a game in which the Pirates scored fewer than seven runs. That came on June 2, when he outdueled Johan Santana and beat a punchless Mets team 3-1. The Pirates have totaled 97 runs and allowed 26 in his 11 victories. That’s an average score of 9-2. The Pirates have played 144 other games this season. In those, they’ve scored 520 runs and allowed 719. That’s 3.6 runs scored per game and 5.0 allowed.
So, yeah, the Pirates are bad. But it’s still amazing that they’ve somehow managed to go 1-20 when Duke starts and they don’t score at least seven runs. Duke actually receives the best run support on the staff. It’s a little inconsistent, but it’s there. He’s gotten 4.6 runs per nine innings, just a bit ahead of Ross Ohlendorf at 4.4. Compare that to Paul Maholm, who has gotten 3.6 runs, yet has still gone 8-9 with a 4.44 ERA that’s substantially higher than Duke’s. Ohlendorf has the same ERA as Duke and is 11-10.
To lay it all out:
The Pirates are 11-20 in Duke’s starts. They score 4.6 runs per 9 IP for him, and he has a 3.94 ERA.
The Pirates are 15-16 in Maholm’s starts. They score 3.6 runs per 9 IP for him, and he has a 4.44 ERA.
The Pirates are 14-15 in Ohlendorf’s starts. They score 4.4 runs per 9 IP for him, and he has a 3.92 ERA.
I chalk it up to luck, mostly. But Duke hasn’t done his best work in close contests, and since wins and losses are the name of the game, he just hasn’t helped the Pirates as much his numbers indicate. It’s not something I’d hold against him going forward, but it will be worth watching for, just in case it starts to happen again next year.

  1. Justin - Sep 28, 2009 at 7:23 PM

    Has anyone performed an EEG on the Author to see if there are any signs of brain function. This article makes no sense. Duke pitches well, but he can’t win, so he pitches poorly? This article is a waste a bandwidth, and the author should be demoted to NBC mail room boy…
    I want this guys job, write pure garbage, put it on the internet, and get PAID by NBC. awesome.

  2. Will - Sep 28, 2009 at 8:23 PM

    Mr. Pouliot is making the point that Zach Duke seems to pitch well when his team is scoring a lot of runs, and poorly when his team isn’t scoring. He appears to doing the opposite of the mythic “pitching to the score.” For the record, I didn’t find the article confusing at all.

  3. Bill - Sep 29, 2009 at 9:56 AM

    Lol. This article stinks… I guess its phone it in Tuesday!

  4. Kenna Cabiles - Jan 27, 2010 at 1:29 PM

    Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Pineda ejection wrong message from MLB
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. I. Davis (3655)
  2. K. Farnsworth (2929)
  3. M. Harrison (2850)
  4. I. Nova (2700)
  5. D. Robertson (2635)
  1. M. Minor (2578)
  2. A. Eaton (2574)
  3. O. Taveras (2540)
  4. S. Choo (2529)
  5. M. Perez (2492)