Aug 7, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Danny Duffy (41) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Keeping Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura


Sep 17, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Yordano Ventura (30) delivers a pitch in the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

There are two schools of thought when it comes to what the Royals should do with their hole in the rotation. The first is to throw money at the problem, either in resigning Ervin Santana or by going after Ubaldo Jimenez or Matt Garza. The second is to simply slot Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura into the rotation, and let the two promising young starters hold down the last two spots in the rotation. While that option could well prove fruitful in the future, having two pitchers with a combined 34 starts in the majors may not be helpful to winning in 2014.

In fact, there are questions as to whether or not the Royals should have both pitchers in the rotation at the same time. Joel Wagler at KC Kingdom argues that the Royals should look to trade one of Duffy and Ventura, given that neither have demonstrated that they can pitch deeper into games. He raises a valid point about the bullpen being overworked if neither starter can last six innings, and the potential problems that could ensue.

Yet, there are several factors to consider when looking at either pitcher’s innings total. Danny Duffy has been injured, having dealt with Tommy John surgery, and has been brought back slowly. There was really no reason to extend him further than five innings last season, given the depth in the bullpen and his injury issues. The limited innings that he pitched in 2013 may have been more of a matter of protecting his arm instead of an inability to become a pitcher that can last deeper into games.

A similar argument could be made for Yordano Ventura. Ventura has been brought along slowly, but has seen his innings pitched increase each year. After pitching 109.1 innings in 2012, Ventura pitched a total of 150 innings across three levels, and appears to be ready to take on a bigger workload. While he is unlikely to approach 200 innings next season, Ventura could end up closer to 180 innings pitched.

The Royals also have the benefit of having three pitchers in the rotation that have proven to be innings eaters. James Shields, Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie have all gone out there and taken their turn with regularity, typically pitching to the 200 inning mark. Having starters that can go out and pitch deep into games like they are able to could help mitigate any problems with the bullpen being overworked should Ventura and Duffy not develop as expected.

Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura may not have displayed the ability to pitch deep into games at this point, but that may be by design instead of an inability to go beyond five or six innings. Having two young pitchers with the potential that Duffy and Ventura have, along with the impending arrival of Kyle Zimmer, could give the Royals an excellent home grown rotation in the next couple of years.

There is no reason to part ways with either Danny Duffy or Yordano Ventura. If not this season, both can be key parts of the rotation in the near future.

Tags: Danny Duffy Kansas City Royals Yordano Ventura

  • jimfetterolf

    Agree. All three of the Young Guns are high ceiling talents with two of them already having faced major league hitters. Both learned some things last year, Duffy that he needs to lock in his curve release point and maybe bring back one of his other pitches, whether slider or cutter, and Ventura likely learned that major league hitters can sit on 100mph pitches, so needs to concentrate on 96mph where the ball moves most and sharpen up the change. His change is Jason Vargas’ fastball, not enough separation of speed to be effective yet. He also needs a two-seamer. His model should be Verlander, who can throw 100 but seldom does, instead works his fastball up and down in an 8mph range and mixes plus secondary pitches. Ventura and Perez also need to just keep some variety. Seven fastballs in a row won’t work in the bigs.

  • unclejesse40

    I agree, given the fact that you have three innings eating work horses you can get by with two guys that might struggle getting to 6. If it really becomes a problem just space the two of them out and always give the bullpen a day of rest between the two young guys. given the fact that shields will leave after this year we have to know what the 2015 rotation is going to be before 2014 is over. If Duffy and Ventura both fail, 15 is going to rough. If Duffy and Ventura both have quality years and Zimmer is locked in 15 starts to look really fun.

  • unclejesse40

    David, do you know what the Royals have been up to Internationally? Other than the Italian kid they signed I didn’t hear anything. To be real honest I think the Royals need to be signing as many international kids as they can get their hands on. GMDM and his scouts seem to do pretty well in this arena and I have just been really surprised to not hear more.

    • Dave Hill

      I have not heard of much activity there either. It would make sense for them to look into that area more, but all has been quiet there.

  • kcstengelSr

    We have to develop our very own starting pitchers or we can’t afford to compete for long. Those saying 2014 is not the year for the kids because of our improved team status (even if we add a Santana, Garza, or Price) will face 2015 losing Shields and without giving the youngsters the major league time necessary this year for their development.
    I don’t see the innings concern with Duffy and Ventura as a major issue, as Danny and Yordano only have to throw innings like Mendoza or Davis to replace rotation innings, and neither Luis nor Wade were known for frequent long efforts last season. Vargas eats the Santana innings, if not the Ervin results and I am not convinced that Santana will avoid some regression next year, so go with the kids.

  • moretrouble

    The author has a good understanding of how KC is trying to develop Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura. They are as important to the future of the franchise as Hosmer, Perez or any other of their young core. I do not believe KC is interested in trading any of their young core at present.

    I suspect that KC is bumping up against a soft salary ceiling, perhaps not so much this year, but how the current commitments affect the out years, with the contracts of Shields, Butler and Gordon expiring. Those three are as much a part of the core as the youngsters and continued success may depend on those negotiations.

    But, do they actually need one more starter? No. In my opinion, the KC Royals, with their current roster, are equal to any team in the division, with this caveat: they haven’t won anything yet. Detroit is the favorite until someone beats them. KC is knocking on the door; now they’ve got to prove they belong in that upper echelon. And, if I were Ned Yost, I would manage games in April and May this year just like he did down the stretch last fall. In other words, win every game.