Zach Duke struck with comebacker, has broken hand

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The Diamondbacks acquired Zach Duke in a trade with the Pirates this winter with the intention of adding depth to their starting rotation. Arizona was thinking that the 27-year-old southpaw would do well with a change of scenery after finishing with a 5.72 ERA over 29 starts for the Bucs in 2010.

But things have been a bit rocky this spring.

Duke has allowed a whopping 18 hits and eight runs over his first eight innings of Cactus League play and he was forced from his Saturday evening appearance against the Rockies after taking a line drive off the back of his pitching hand.

Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic caught up with Duke on Sunday morning. He sounded optimistic about the injury being minor, though he offered no explanation for his recent struggles on the mound.

“I can move my fingers,” said Duke. “Obviously, there’s discomfort. But I feel pretty good about it. . . . They did some tests, some trainers’ tests where they pushed on my knuckles and everything. I didn’t have any sharp, shooting pains or anything.”

The D’Backs will likely scratch Duke from his next scheduled start as a precautionary measure. He should be healthy in about a week, but effectiveness may continue to escape him right on through Opening Day.

UPDATE: Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that Duke has two broken bones in his pitching hand and won’t throw a baseball for at least the next month.

Steven Matz homers in back-to-back starts

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Mets starter Steven Matz helped his own cause again, belting a solo home run in the top of the third inning of Tuesday’s game against the Phillies. Matz turned on a 1-1 breaking ball from Cy Young contender Aaron Nola, breaking a scoreless tie.

Matz also homered in his previous start against the Marlins last Thursday. According to MLB Stat of the Day, he is the third Mets pitcher to homer in back-to-back starts, joining Tom Seaver (1972) and Ron Darling (1989).

Matz is the fourth full-time pitcher to hit multiple home runs this season, joining the Reds’ Michael Lorenzen (four), and the Cardinals’ John Gant and Miles Mikolas (two each). The last Mets pitcher to hit multiple home runs in a season was Noah Syndergaard, who hit three in 2016.

Along with the bat, Matz has also been dealing on the mound. As of this writing, he has held the Phillies scoreless over five innings despite walking five batters and allowing two hits.