Kansas City Royals Danny Duffy’s Success May be a Mirage


Last season, the long awaited breakout for Danny Duffy occurred. He was one of the better pitchers in the American League, his 9-12 record belieing a stellar 2.53 ERA and a 1.112 WHiP. His maturation on the mound, and willingness to attack the zone while trusting his stuff, was a sight to behold. The hope was that, along with Yordano Ventura, Duffy would be able to become a top of the rotation starter for the Royals.

This season did not go according to plan. Duffy struggled from the onset of the season, battling ineffectiveness and a shoulder issue that sidelined the lefty for just over a month. Through the end of June, Duffy had posted a 5.44 ERA and a 1.631 WHiP, leaving one to wonder whether or not the progress made last season was an aberration.

Over his three starts in July, Duffy has looked more like that starter from 2014. While he seemed more confident upon his return from the disabled list and had been attacking the zone, the results have begun to manifest. In his last three starts, Duffy has posted a 1.33 ERA and a 1.082 WHiP, a dramatic improvement over his first three months.

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Yet, this rebound for Danny Duffy may not be exactly what it appears to be. In his last 20.1 innings of work, Duffy has walked seven batters against only five strikeouts. He has not been hit quite as hard as he had been before, but opponents do have a 23% line drive rate against Duffy in those three outings. Despite that, Duffy has had a low .217 batting average on balls in play.

With the Kansas City Royals considered to be in need of an upgrade in the rotation, Duffy’s solid outings over his last three times out may lead one to think that the starting pitching issues could be overblown. After all, Jason Vargas is going to return, and Kris Medlen, despite starting his Royals tenure in the bullpen, is expected to eventually rejoin the rotation.

Yet, even then, the Royals do not have that stopper they need in the rotation. The performance of Danny Duffy over the past three outings has been solid on the surface, but it does not appear to be the type of performance that would be truly sustainable. With a distinct drop in strikeouts, coupled with a line drive rate that is still above league average, it seems to be a matter of time before Duffy once again regresses.

Danny Duffy’s strong outings have been what the Kansas City Royals have needed this month. Yet, it may not be a surprise to see Duffy struggle once again, especially given his peripherals over the past three outings.

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