Kansas City Royals Breakdown: The Rotation

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Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Danny Duffy

For all of the struggles that the Kansas City Royals pitching rotation has had this season, the regression of Danny Duffy may be the biggest concern. It appeared as though he had broken through last season, as his 2.53 ERA and 1.112 WHiP belied his 9-12 record. Duffy was pitching with a confidence that we had not seen before, attacking the opposition and believing that he truly belonged in the major leagues.

This season, we have seen quite the regression from Duffy. He has pitched more than five innings only twice this season, and has put together two of the worst outings of his professional career in his past two starts. In his past 4.2 innings, Duffy has allowed ten runs on eleven hits and six walks while hitting two batters. His 5.67 ERA and 1.710 WHiP speak to his struggles this season, yet Duffy’s five wild pitches in 33.1 innings may be more of an indication of trouble than even his ERA and WHiP would indicate.

So, what has happened this season? While Duffy is walking batters at a roughly career average 4.1 per nine rate, his command just is not the same. He has caught far too much of the plate when trying to attack hitters, resulting in a .313/.388/.463 batting average against. That average has not been fueled by seeing eye singles either – opponents have a 29% line drive rate on balls put in play against Duffy, as they have hit him hard throughout much of the season.

While we have seen flashes of the Danny Duffy that the Kansas City Royals had last season, they have been few and far between. More often than not, he looks like that pitcher from before who struggled with his confidence and approach. Perhaps Duffy is pressing, putting far too much pressure on himself while trying to live up to being the second starter for the Royals, proving that he is worthy of the trust the team has put in him this season.

The Royals need Danny Duffy to pitch like the breakout starter he was last season. Perhaps sliding him back in the rotation, and taking him out of the second spot in the pitching staff, will help get Duffy back to where he was before. Otherwise, one has to wonder if he will get the Mike Moustakas treatment from last season, and be sent down to Omaha for a couple of weeks just to build that confidence back up.

Next: He just keeps going