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Zach Duke undergoes Tommy John surgery

In a dead period for Cardinals news, the Duke news is a major blow for the 2017 bullpen

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday afternoon, in what could be construed as a Friday news dump, it was reported that Zach Duke, the left-handed reliever that the Cardinals acquired last July 31 from the Chicago White Sox, underwent Tommy John surgery and will likely miss the entire 2017 season.

Duke, 33, was acquired not only to bolster the bullpen for the 2016 stretch run but also to add a solid veteran presence to the 2017 team, as Duke is signed through the end of next season. In 23 13 innings with the Cardinals last season, Duke had a 1.93 ERA with 13 walks and 26 strikeouts. Overall, it was arguably his best season since converting from starter to full-time reliever, posting an overall ERA of 2.36.

The injury is certainly a blow for the Cardinals bullpen—while the team still has several viable options under team control for 2017, Duke appeared to be one of the safer ones at their disposal. It marks the second consecutive season that a Cardinals pitcher was sidelined before the season even started with Tommy John surgery—rotation stalwart Lance Lynn missed the 2016 season following the procedure.

There is, of course, an entire off-season in which the Cardinals can procure an additional replacement for Duke, but whether or not that will be done remains to be seen. In the meantime, here was some other stuff that happened yesterday on Viva El Birdos.

Dexter Fowler

I wrote about Cubs center fielder Dexter Fowler and his impending free agency and how the Cardinals probably should not sign him.

An Arizona Fall League update

Josey Curtis recapped Harrison Bader’s performance on Thursday night in the Arizona Fall League.

A mini-season in review

Special guest Audrey Stark, normally of Beyond the Box Score, recapped the 2016 Cardinals season. Thankfully she is a guest and not a full-time writer on VEB, for the sake of my own ego, because this post was very good.

2016 highlights

Lil Scooter ranked her three favorite moments of the 2016 season, and the list was solid. Ignore the part where she said Adam Wainwright struck out the Diamondbacks, though. It’s a minor detail.

And if you’re feeling this wave of 2016 insta-nostalgia, be sure to vote for the VEB Awards! Deadline is today.