Jun 7, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Danny Duffy (41) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Yankees at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Third Time is not the Charm for Danny Duffy

Since coming back to the majors this season, Danny Duffy has appeared to be a different pitcher. He has been more in command, not just with his pitching, but on the mound as well. Even when things are not going right on the mound, Duffy has not let his emotions get the best of him as he had in the past.

Duffy has even had his moments of pure dominance, such as his performance on June 2nd, when he allowed only one hit and one walk while striking out five over six innings against the St. Louis Cardinals. The dominance has extended through the first two times he has faced a lineup this season, as Duffy has given up a combined .163/.262/.293 batting line the first two times he has faced a lineup as a starter heading into last night’s action. However, when facing a lineup for the third time, Duffy becomes far more mortal, getting hit for a .320/.393/.520 batting line facing a lineup for the third time.

Danny Duffy’s early dominance and later struggles both continued last night against the New York Yankees. Though the first two times through the batting order, Duffy only allowed two hits and two walks, as he pitched five shutout innings. However, the third time through the lineup saw the Yankees get three hits and a walk, accounting for three runs, as Duffy recorded only two outs. Yes, there was a bit of bad luck as Lorenzo Cain‘s dive came up just short on Yangervis Solarte‘s sinking line drive that fell in for a two run single, yet Duffy has continued to struggle the third time through the lineup.

Perhaps the biggest issue with Duffy is that he has essentially been a two pitch pitcher, relying heavily on his fastball and curve. While he does occasionally throw a changeup, that pitch has been mainly for show to plant the thought in the hitter’s mind. In fact, the fastball and curve has accounted for almost 83% of the pitches that Duffy has thrown this year, according to Fangraphs.

While being a two pitch pitcher can be effective as a reliever, or even the first couple of times through a lineup, yet that effectiveness is likely to wane as a pitcher gets deeper into a game. Typically, a starting pitcher needs three pitches that he can throw at almost any time in order to be able to keep major league hitters off balance. With Duffy, batters go into the batter’s box that third time having seen what he has to offer. Without that third pitch being a threat, they can focus on looking for one pitch and doing damage that way.

Perhaps with time, Danny Duffy can develop his changeup to the point where he has more confidence with it. Instead of using it as a throw away pitch and to give the hitter something to think about, perhaps Duffy will be able to refine the change to the point where he can use it to attack. Having that pitch as a better option could be the final piece to the puzzle for Duffy.

For the most part, Danny Duffy has been quite good this season. Once he is able to figure out a way to handle a lineup deeper in the game, he could turn into that top of the rotation starter the Royals envisioned he would become.

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  • jimfetterolf

    Duffy said awhile back that he’s been working with Shields on the change and before he was hurt he had a cutter that Chen taught him. I think it’s more confidence than anything else, so should come around.

    Notice anything about the homers last night? Perez channeled his inner Frenchy with the golf stroke and Hosmer took a real short stride on the ball he vaporized.

    • Dave Hill

      I didn’t see the one that Perez hit (was picking up a pizza) but the Hosmer one was the type of swing that he appeared to have last year, if I’m not mistaken.

      • jimfetterolf

        You’re not mistaken. Hosmer’s stride this year looks like Duffy’s pitch in the picture above, so long that he can’t rotate his hips, which is the source of power, and he loses balance as he swings. Big loopy swing with no hips is a soft liner to right when barreled. His stride on his homer was only about four inches.

        What Perez did was take a low, inside pitch and golf it, classic Frenchy swing. And both got out front, they didn’t stay back, they attacked with loft and that’s where most dingers come from, greater bat speed from longer travel and some up where the bat meets the ball.

        People talk about lack of power for the Royals. That’s nonsense and is the statement of someone who hasn’t hit. Ballplayers are big nowdays, much stronger than decades ago with weight training instead of Ted Williams’ pull ups and finger tip push ups. Hosmer has power, Salvy, Billy. Gordon is bigger than Maris, Hosmer bigger than Williams. To hit a home run you need strength and a swing. Gordon, Hosmer, and Perez are getting the swing, Giavotella has the swing but lacks the power, Butler is strong as a horse but lacks the swing. With those two elements it gets down to approach and pitch recognition. Frenchy went for the bomb every swing, Moose gets fooled constantly. Both strong and having a home run swing but unable to connect.

        • Larry Devore

          They need to study tape on Alex Gordon. He extends his plate appearances, swings at junk once in a great while but not often. Rest of the players just seem to hacking away. Plate patience is what is needed, most of the team doesn’t have it yet.

          • jimfetterolf

            Agree, too many hacks at junk with less than two strikes. If a batter is 2-0 or 3-1 and gets something down and away he should just ignore it most times, instead look for a pitch in a spot. With two strikes, of course, approach is usually different. Alex is heating up, seems to have taken back the inner third and punishing mistakes.

        • moretrouble

          You’re right … that’s an excellent point about players being bigger, stronger today. However, so are the pitchers, LOL.

  • Stan Colbert

    I am so proud of our SPs! The only players who are forced to be accountable. They know no matter what they are going out on that mound until Ned counts close to 100. Because the rest of the team doesn’t have this these guys have little chance for wins.

    • jimfetterolf

      Only wins that matter are team wins.