The 2016 season hasn’t even been over two weeks, but the St. Louis Cardinals already have suffered their first loss of 2017.
Left-handed reliever Zach Duke last week underwent Tommy John elbow ligament-replacement surgery and also had work done on his forearm. Duke, 33, is expected to miss all of next season.
Duke was acquired from the Chicago White Sox on July 31 for minor-league center fielder Charlie Tilson. He was 0-1 with a 1.93 ERA in 28 games, holding right-handed batters to a .203 average.
Duke pitched in all three games of the Cardinals’ next-to-last series of the season against Cincinnati, but was not available in the season-ending three-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Despite the sweep, St. Louis fell one game short of the postseason as the San Francisco Giants swept the Los Angeles Dodgers to land the second wild-card spot in the National League.
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Pending trades or free-agent signings, Kevin Siegrist, Tyler Lyons and Dean Kiekhefer will be the Cardinals lefty relievers entering spring training.
Duke’s injury could push the Cardinals into retaining enigmatic left-hander Jaime Garcia at $12 million for 2017. That may be cheaper than pursuing another starter, and it could make more funds available for finding a replacement in the pen for Duke.