Duke has great talent, but he plays on a terrible team. He'll struggle some this year since he's now been thrust into the "staff ace" role. Note the fate of the last 3 Pirates "ace" pitchers (Benson, Wells, Perez). Granted, Duke may be better than all of them, but he got fairly lucky last year that the Pirates decided to score 3-4 runs in most of the games he pitched giving him a good record.
I know not many people take stock in the #1 vs. #1 pitcher argument, but I do. I see Duke going against the #1 or #2 opposing starter at least 8-10 times this year when you count the matchups of the first two weeks of the year and the all-star break plus a few due to random scheduling. When the Pirates play these pitchers, they probably aren't going to score many runs which will lead to many ND's and possible losses.
These are some preliminary predictions I have made on him on another board. I give him lower totals because Lord knows Pirates starters always get hurt and miss a start here and there...I'm probably no better at predicting than anyone else, but here were my gut feelings:
Probably good for 4th or 5th starter status I'd say.
The One, The Only, The Incomparable Mercer Boy.
blog (updated 6/21 - Pirates walkout.)