Free Agent Friday: Red Sox relief pitching options

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Aug 20, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Zach Duke (59) during the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Honorable Mention Relief Pitcher: Zach Duke

Zach Duke was a revelation this year in an impressive Milwaukee relief core. Lead by a resurgent K-Rod, the Brew-Crew really worked hard to improve on one of their weakest points of 2013 and looked like the best team in baseball for a lot of the year because of it (despite just missing the playoffs). While Francisco Rodriguez and newcomer Will Smith pitched very well, Duke was the best of the three statistically. After a standout year as a rookie with the Pirates all the way back in 2005, his performance left a lot to be desired until he was given a chance by the Brewers this past season.

Duke finally came through, with a 2.45 ERA while holding opponents to a .223 batting average. He was dominant against lefties (.198 BAA) but he was still good against righties (.242 BAA) and also struck out 74 batters, while only walking 17 in 58.2 IP. His hugely impressive numbers would mean a lot more if he had a more consistent track record. That said, it is not altogether unusual for relief pitchers to figure it out later in their careers and he won’t necessitate quite as hefty a deal as some other names here. This could intrigue the Red Sox.