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Reds sign Zach Duke, then try to fix bullpen


The Reds just signed Zach Duke - a lefty and former starter who turned reliever sometime in 2011 - to a minor league contract. Duke pitched 20 terrible innings for the Nationals this season, being used as a long/middle reliever and facing the normal split of lefties and righties (about 70% RHB).

It's possible Duke is Manny Parra's understudy. Their 2013 numbers and career paths definitely match up. It's possible also that signing Duke is a hint that Marshall might need more time. In any case, it's not likely to do much for the bullpen's ongoing struggles. Duke has pitched better against lefties in his career, though only slightly - and was lit up by them this season.

More depth is a good thing, but the Reds' bullpen woes go almost all the way to the top. Not even halfway through June, the Reds' pen has coughed up four late leads this month. After yesterday's game, they have a 3-7 record in extra innings. The team's three best non-Chapman relievers (Broxton, LeCure, Hoover) have been highly ineffective of late, while Broxton may be injured.

Part of this problem, though, might correct itself from within. Sam LeCure is having a great season that hit a rough patch. That shouldn't last. Curtis Partch looked very good yesterday. His fastball sits at 95 and touches 97. His breaking stuff can be buckling. He looks like he'd be good at bar fighting.

So Partch could probably hold down a middle relief spot for a while, assuming he's not sent down for good to Louisville in exchange for a fresher arm. But with Marshall already on the DL, Broxton potentially headed there and not much to write home about on the season, aside from Chapman and LeCure, the Reds might need some more help.