KC Royals: Rotation Set and Danny Duffy Named Opening Day Starter
By Mike Courson
The rotation is set for the KC Royals. Over the weekend, Danny Duffy was named the starter for the April 3 season opener in Minnesota.
For the KC Royals, Ian Kennedy follows Duffy in game two, and Jason Hammel gets the nod for game three.
Duffy was impressive in his two World Baseball Classic starts, finishing with a 2-0 record and 1.13 ERA. He allowed eight hits, struck out eight, and allowed just one earned run in his eight innings of work for the United States.
Friday, Duffy returned to spring training where he allowed three runs in six innings in a 4-3 loss to Seattle.
Last season, Duffy led the Royals starters with a 3.51 ERA in 42 appearances, including 25 starts. The 28-year-old posted an 8-2 record with a 3.86 ERA in his final 15 starts of the season. Last August, Duffy nearly threw a no-hitter against Tampa Bay. He missed the no-hitter but did set a club record with 16 strikeouts in the win.
As the No. 2 man in the rotation, Kennedy will look to improve on an 11-11 record last year. He was second on the team among starters with a 3.68 ERA in 33 starts. Kennedy was especially good late in the year.
His 21 home runs allowed the break contributed to a 3.97 ERA. Kennedy allowed just 12 home runs after the All-Star Break and finished with a 3.38 ERA in his final 16 starts of 2016. Kennedy and Duffy were the only two Royals to finish with more than 180 strikeouts last season.
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Jason Hammel started 30 games for the Chicago Cubs last season, finishing with a 15-10 record and 3.83 ERA. He did not throw in the postseason as the Cubs made their run to a world championship.
Hammel has been impressive in limited spring training work for Kansas City with 13 strikeouts and a 3.14 ERA in 14.1 innings of work. Like Jeremy Guthrie and Chris Young, Hammel will likely be the next beneficiary of the large outfield and stout defense in Kansas City.
Jason Vargas returns to the roster as the No. 4 man in the rotation, and newcomer Nathan Karns completes the rotation in the No. 5 spot. Vargas threw in just three September games last season for the Royals, holding opponents to a .182 average in 12 innings of work.
Vargas threw 13.1 innings in spring training with a 5.40 ERA. In his last full season with Kansas City in 2014, Vargas carried a 3.71 ERA in 187 innings.
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Karns gets the nod in the rotation over Young. Last season for Seattle, Karns struck out 101 batters in just 94.1 innings of action. He started 15 games for the Mariners, finishing with a 6-2 record and 5.15 ERA.