1. Danny Duffy Becoming An Ace
Danny Duffy‘s emergence as a legit rotation headliner is clearly the best, and most unexpected, story of 2016. Duffy began the season in the bullpen. After parts of six seasons in which he struggled to harness his potential, no one saw him becoming one of the best pitchers in baseball.
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Heck, I would have been happy if he held down a regular turn in the rotation.
Instead, Duffy has become dominant. Manager Ned Yost inserted him into the rotation after no. 4 and no. 5 starters Kris Medlen and Chris Young hit the disabled list in late May. Duffy gradually built up his arm to take a full turn in the rotation. However, even before working his way back to 100 pitches a game, you could see that something was different.
Rather than nibble at the edges of the plate, Duffy was attacking hitters with his 97 mph fastball. He junked his curve. And, most important of all, he was using a new slider that he had discovered in pre-game workouts in the American League Championship Series last October.
The result has been an 11-1 record, a 2.66 ERA, and a 5.13 K/BB ratio. Insane.
The new and improved Super-Duffy is the no. 1 thing that has gone right for the KC Royals in 2016. He’s a guy that can carry a team through the playoffs. That’s something that both the 2014 and 2015 pennant winners lacked.
Don’t look now, Kansas City. The Royals have found their very own version of the San Francisco Giants’ Madison Bumgarner. Now, Ned Yost has an entirely new tool to deploy in a short series if his team can sneak into the post-season.
Doubt the Duff-man at your own peril.