Zach Duke (Dennis Wierzbicki / USA TODAY Sports Images)

Left-handed reliever Zach Duke underwent Tommy John surgery and will finish his St. Louis Cardinals contract on the disabled list.

Left-handed reliever Zach Duke underwent Tommy John surgery and will finish his St. Louis Cardinals contract on the disabled list.

The following was posted on Twitter on Friday afternoon, shared by reporter Jenifer Langosch of

Brian Walton’s take

The news was a surprise. Though Zach Duke did not pitch in the St. Louis Cardinals’ final series of the season, there was no indication that the 33-year-old had any structural damage. That was apparently discovered later.

Also, it seems odd the surgery was last week, yet the information was disclosed only now – late on a Friday afternoon.

The good news is that since joining the Cards, Duke was very effective on the mound. In 23 1/3 innings over 28 appearances, he yielded just five earned runs on 17 hits (1.93 ERA). Duke struck out 26, but his 13 walks were a bit high.

On the other hand, he may be paying the price for heavy usage, before and after becoming a Cardinal. Immediately before being sidelined, Duke threw in six of seven games – September 23-25 and 27-29. Between St. Louis and Chicago, he appeared in 81 games this season, second-most among MLB hurlers.

The July 31 trade – which brought Duke to St. Louis from the Chicago White Sox in return for prospect Charlie Tilson - seems cursed. In his first MLB game, Tilson tore his hamstring and was lost for the year. But at least the outfielder will be back for 2017 and could remain Chicago property for five or six more seasons.

The worst news for the Cardinals is that Duke is not going to be able to pitch in 2017 and he becomes a free agent next fall. That leaves St. Louis on the hook for the $5.5 million salary he brought with him from the Sox.

Now, the Cardinals will need again to locate another bullpen lefty to pair with incumbent Kevin Siegrist. They could return to the free agent or trade markets for a more experienced arm.

Internal candidates already on the 40-man roster could include Tyler Lyons, Marco Gonzales, Tim Cooney, Dean Kiekhefer and Jaime Garcia – if the option for the latter is picked up and he is not starting in 2017. Two others ready to knock on the door are now pitching in the Arizona Fall League – Ryan Sherriff and Corey Littrell.

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