After losing out on the final spot in the Kansas City Royals rotation to Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy was sent down to Omaha to stay ready in case he was needed. At the time, it was expected that Duffy would come up either when one of the starters was injured, or to provide a boost to the rotation in the second half. If Duffy was able to start pitching deeper into games, then that would be a bonus.
That plan lasted for exactly one minor league start. Duffy was brought up before yesterday’s game to be a part of the Royals bullpen, serving as the only left handed reliever option at this point. The promotion of Duffy once again gives the Royals a seven man bullpen, as Johnny Giavotella was sent back to Omaha with Omar Infante being ready for game action.
The timing of the move is curious. Tim Collins and Francisley Bueno were both placed on the disabled list on April 7th, yet the Royals have brought up several pitchers before Duffy. Was that one start, where Duffy gave up five hits and a walk while striking out four over six innings, really enough to make the Royals feel that he was ready? Likewise, if Duffy was being called up to be a reliever, then why not keep him on the Opening Day roster? Were the Royals truly that concerned with potentially losing Bueno?
It may simply be that the Royals just did not have a choice in who to bring up. Donnie Joseph, who was sent back down to Omaha so Giavotella could be called up, has not performed well thus far for the Storm Chasers. In fact, every other left handed option in Omaha has struggled as well this season, leaving Duffy as the only logical choice.
Yet, given Danny Duffy‘s difficulties when it comes to pitching deep in games, such a role may be best. While turning Duffy into a reliever may not have been in the Royals plans, at least at this point in the season, he may be well suited for the role. If his 2014 debut, and the 2.1 perfect innings with three strikeouts, are any indication, Duffy could well stabilize that spot in the bullpen.
Having Duffy in the bullpen is likely a temporary solution, one that will end once Collins or Bueno are ready to return from the disabled list. However, if he performs well in his time in Kansas City, the Royals may elect to keep him in the bullpen until he is needed to replace either Bruce Chen or Jeremy Guthrie in the rotation.
Danny Duffy may not have been the Royals first choice for the bullpen. He may not have even been their second or third choice. Yet, despite that, he could end up being the best option they called up.