No Aroldis Chapman, but Redleg Nation had better get used to the fact that Mr. 106 will pitch the 9th and the 9th inning only. So Manny Parra came in to get probably the biggest out of the game. The same Manny Parra that Reds fans wanted to ride out of town on a rail just a month ago.
Parra induced a fly ball to Jay Bruce for the final out. And Parra has been better as of late, crucial because the Reds do not have Sean Marshall because of an injury. Aside from The Cuban Missile, Parra is the Reds only lefthanded option in the bullpen.
If Parra regresses, Zach Duke could be another option if Marshall isn’t available. That’s right, the same Zach Duke who broke in with the Pirates in 2006 and made the NL All-Star Game in 2009. Duke now pitches for the Louisville Bats in Triple A.
Duke was a beacon of hope in the quagmire known as Pittsburgh Pirate baseball. A lefth-anded starter, Duke put together some good years for the Pirates but they were always losing and then rebuilding—for decades.
“Right after I made the All-Star Game, six of our eight regulars were traded or released two weeks later,” said Duke. Pittsburgh eventually even traded Duke to the Diamondbacks and then he wound up with Washington this year. But the Nationals released him in May.
“It was very tough in Washington,” said Duke. “I didn’t pitch a lot and it was hard to stay sharp. I’d pitch in blowout games and I never got to pitch in high-intensity situations. That set me back from a pitching standpoint.
“Here in Louisville, it’s been the opposite. The Reds have the injury to Marshall and Parra hasn’t done as well as expected so there may be an opportunity for a call up if I’m needed.”
So far, so good in Louisville. In eight appearances, Duke has pitched eight innings of shutout ball, allowing just four hits, walking two and striking out nine. He has three holds and two saves. “Physically, I’m good, mentally I’m good and the coaches here are putting me in situations where I can succeed.”
“He’s been close to perfect,” said Louisville pitching coach Ted Power. “I watched him throw in the bullpen when he got here and saw certain things. I asked him to rank his pitches, what he was comfortable with in certain situations. If I noticed something, we talked it over. We communicate well and Zach has reached a point where he’s very comfortable when we call on him.”
Duke’s got the experience and savvy to potentially make a call up work for the Reds. At 31, he’s remade himself into what looks to be an effective bullpen pitcher. Don’t be surprised to see him in Cincinnati’s red and white at some point this season.