Prior to this season, Danny Duffy has not pitched more than 126.2 innings in his professional career. Yordano Ventura reached 150 innings last season between the major and minor leagues for his personal high so far in his career. Both young pitchers are on pace to surpass their personal highs in innings, perhaps by the end of this month. Thus far, Duffy has pitched a combined 115 innings, and Ventura has pitched 127 innings this year.
While the Royals have stated that they do not plan on putting an innings cap on either Duffy or Ventura this season, that does not mean that they may not find ways to limit the amount of innings each pitcher throws. In fact, one of those situations happened on Tuesday night, when Duffy was pulled after five innings with the Royals holding an 11-1 lead.
Should the Royals find themselves on the winning side of a blowout early in a start by either Yordano Ventura or Danny Duffy going forward, it may be that they leave after five, much like Duffy did the other night. Duffy could also be skipped due to an off day, in an attempt to minimize the wear on his elbow as he completes his first full season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
While Duffy is likely to surpass the 150 inning threshold that is generally considered the next step in building up a starter’s innings count, he may still be able to remain under 170 should the Royals choose to go that route. Likewise, Ventura could find himself ending the season with approximately 180 innings of work this season, especially if the Royals start taking him out of games early in blowout situations.
The roster expansion on September 1st would also provide an excellent opportunity to limit the innings for Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura. Simply based on having more pitchers on the roster, Ned Yost would have added flexibility in how to manage either Duffy or Ventura, should the Royals decide to limit the innings total for either pitcher. This unspoken desire to limit the innings for either pitcher is the likely reason as to why the Royals were linked to several different starting pitchers at the trade deadline.
It may be that the Royals still look to add a starting pitcher during August. Jason Hammel, who was placed on revokable waivers by the Oakland A’s earlier this month, could be a target, especially as the Royals were thought to be interested in his services prior to his trade to Oakland. Should that happen, it would most likely be that Duffy ends up in the bullpen for a time. Otherwise, the Royals may need to get creative as to how they manage the innings for both of their young starters.
Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura are not on a specific innings limit, at least at this point in time. However, that does not mean that the Royals will not look for ways to limit the amount of work they have this season.