Who is new Twins pitcher Zach Duke?

Zach Duke pitched in 18 1/3 innings for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2017. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Twins signed their third relief pitcher of the offseason earlier this week: left-hander Zach Duke.

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Well, who is this guy?

Duke is coming off an unanticipated solid season on the mound for the St. Louis Cardinals. He underwent Tommy John surgery in October 2016 and wasn’t expected back until late in the 2017 season, if at all. But the 34-year-old healed quickly and returned in July, allowing just 6.4 hits per nine innings in 27 appearances out of St. Louis’ bullpen.

But he’s not just a pitcher. If the Twins need an extra outfielder, Duke might be the answer. He made this impressive grab while playing for the White Sox in 2016.

Last season’s wild-card berth might not be the only thing that attracted Duke to the Twins. Duke, who grew up in Texas, might be curious about all the 10,000 lakes we boast about in Minnesota.

Seriously. He really, really, really loves to fish.

Other quick facts about Duke:

— Duke was born on the exact same day as Twins first baseman Joe Mauer — April 19, 1983.

— Selected in the 20th round of the 2001 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, the southpaw was named the Pirates’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2004. He finished fifth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting the following summer, posting an 8-2 record and 1.81 ERA.

— Duke spent his initial six big-league seasons with the Pirates before he was traded to Arizona in 2011. Since then, he has spent time with the Nationals, White Sox, Cardinals, Reds and Brewers.

— He’s allowed six hits and three runs in nine games (5 2/3 innings) at Target Field.

— From 2014-16, Duke was whiffing 10.4 hitters per nine innings, easily surpassing his 4.7 K/9 from 2005-13.

— Duke’s best man at his 2008 wedding was former Twins closer Matt Capps, who began his career with the Pirates and rose through the ranks alongside Duke.