Jun 28, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura (30) delivers a pitch against the Los Angeles Angels during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Royals Not Giving Their Young Starters an Innings Limit

At the beginning of the season, it was expected that both Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura would have an innings limit this season. After the pervading thought that Dusty Baker‘s overuse of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior played a major role in the injuries that ruined both pitcher’s careers, younger pitcher have increasingly been placed on innings limits, gradually building up to the point where those young pitchers can get to 200 or more innings with what is thought to be less of a risk for injury. Since Ventura pitched just over 150 innings in 2013, while Duffy had 93.1 innings as he worked his way back from Tommy John surgery, an innings limit would have made sense.

However, that is not the path that the Royals are seemingly taking. At the start of the year, Ned Yost indicated at the start of the season that there would not be any such restrictions on Ventura, as he expected the Royals own Rookie of the Year candidate to pitch between 180 and 200 innings this season. Recently, Dayton Moore indicated that the innings limit for Duffy may be called off as well, depending on how he looks going forward.

“Obviously, the more innings a guy throws, the more conscious you are of health,” Moore said. “But we wouldn’t just put some type of number out there. … You’ve got to listen to the player. Listen to the medical team. And evaluate the performance.”

With the Royals hoping to find themselves in the middle of a playoff push this season, they will likely need both Yordano Ventura and Danny Duffy in the rotation. For as well as Jeremy Guthrie has pitched this season, especially lately, he is still not the type of pitcher that inspires confidence as the third starter for a team with playoff aspirations. Bruce Chen just has not inspired any confidence since his first start of the year. Being able to count on having Duffy and Ventura may be a huge boost to those chances.

This decision is quite the departure from what has been accepted as the norm in baseball over the past decade or so. The Royals are essentially saying that the allure of the playoffs, something that has eluded Kansas City for almost three decades, is of far more importance than an innings limit. As the Washington Nationals found out when they shut down Stephen Strasburg during their playoff run, a chance to go deep into October is not guaranteed. Having all hands on deck when heading into the postseason is of utmost importance.

Likewise, an innings limit and the desire to ease younger pitchers into expanded workloads is not a guarantee to keep them healthy either. Even though the professional innings are managed, no one can definitely say how many innings were pitched in high school, traveling teams or on the sandlot. Teams can only try to do what is best for their pitchers, which is what the Royals have done with Yordano Ventura and Danny Duffy.

The training wheels are off. Yordano Ventura and Danny Duffy are going to pitch all year, and should the Royals make the playoffs, both pitchers will likely be a factor in the postseason.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/mlb/kansas-city-royals/article608345.html#storylink=cpy

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Tags: Danny Duffy Kansas City Royals Yordano Ventura

  • unclejesse40

    The innings limit is more important to Duffy this year in my opinion. I know pitchers are creatures of habit, but maybe skip a start here and there might not be a horrible idea. Maybe let Bruce Chen have a go at it in low leverage situations with an umpire that has a large strike zone and teams that like to free swing.

    • Dave Hill

      Or maybe pull Duffy after five in a blowout and let Chen handle three innings or so.

      • unclejesse40

        I have no idea what research says but I wonder if its really the innings that hurt the arm or is it the act of warming the arm up, pitching more than say 3 innings and doing that every 5th day. I know that relievers go every couple of days but they also hopefully don’t throw 50 -60 pitches every time out. Not sure if I made my self clear enough but simply put, should he pitch less innings every 5th day or pitch normal but skip a start every 5th time out in order to bring an arm back up to strength after TJS. when the season is done he might have thrown the same amount of innings in either scenario, but is one better than the other?

        • Dave Hill

          Based on my limited research, it seems to be more a matter of how hard the pitcher throws. An overhand throwing motion seems to be considered more unnatural than any other delivery, so throwing in the upper 90′s or higher is going to put even more strain on the arm. When looking at pitchers that get Tommy John surgery, it seems that those who are considered more finesse pitchers get that injury less.

          I think it’s more a matter of how hard the pitcher throws as opposed to the usage. Maybe taking a couple of miles per hour off would be beneficial.

  • Eric Akers

    There may not be a limit, but it doesn’t appear that they are going to treat them like Vargas or Guthrie either. Duffy rarely gets over 100 pitches, and the Royals have been careful with Ventura as well.

  • Stan Colbert

    I don’t pay a lot of attk., but theire 8 pitchers in the bull pen, I have never seen a better bullpen or a mgr. so afraid to use it!_I guess that is the key to having a good pen?