2018 Royals Season Preview – Danny Duffy

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 6: Danny Duffy /

There was once a time when the Royals had no clue what Danny Duffy would turn out to be. Would he pitch out of the bullpen? Would he start? Could he stay healthy? Danny has answered a lot of those questions over the course of his career but a new one emerged last season: is he capable of being a leader and role model? Five months removed from a DUI incident, he’ll look to shift his focus back to baseball ahead of the 2018 season. 

If you haven’t read my Kings of Kauffman season preview for Jakob Junis, I highly recommend it! Each article will have a link to a previous season preview in the first main body paragraph: just click on the player’s name. The Royals may be relying heavily upon Junis this season to be a steady contributor in the starting rotation.

Another pitcher the team has high expectations for in 2018 is Danny Duffy. After a sensational 2016 season, many predicted Duffy would replicate it the following year. Injuries and off-the-field troubles limited his playing time a bit but when he was on the mound, he was very solid. He’ll be looking to put together a healthy, issue-free 2018. Before we dive into injuries and statistics, let’s address something that happened in late August of last year.

Off-the-field troubles: An isolated incident

On August 27, Danny Duffy was cited for driving under the influence of alcohol during an evening trip to an Overland Park Burger King. I’m sure the majority of you are familiar with the story. Duffy was found unconscious in his vehicle while in the drive-thru line, was shaken awake, insisted he was in driving condition and was subsequently cited for the incident once the police arrived. Urging Royals fans “please continue to have faith in me,” Duffy expressed his regret and offered a sincere apology to players, fans, and coaches alike.

Duffy entered a plea for the DUI in mid-January of 2018 and is now on probation. He’s not allowed to drink alcohol for a year. Stating “I hope I never have another offseason like this again,” here’s a bit more from Duffy:

"“I wanna be a better person. I wanna be a better man. I’ve learned a lot from what I’ve gone through.”"

I sincerely believe Duffy and view this as a completely isolated incident. He’s a role model and a guy everyone in Kansas City has grown to love. He doesn’t want to let anyone down again. Enough non-baseball talk, let’s get into the good stuff.

What did he offer last season?

Danny Duffy’s 2017 was a very eventful one. Having six starts of at least seven innings within the first two months of the season, it was clear Duffy was picking up where he left off the year before. An oblique strain landed him on the disabled list, causing him to miss the entire month of June. he also missed nearly a month of time (August 22-September 17) due to a pronator strain. It wasn’t the healthiest of years for the lefty, whose career-high for innings pitched in a campaign is just under 180 (2016).

When he was on the field, Duffy graded out as the 33rd-most valuable pitcher in all of baseball. This number was down from the 24th-best the year before, but still impressive. Duffy made 24 starts in 2017 and had an ERA of 3.81. His 9-10 record looks mediocre, but Duffy was far from it when healthy. Averaging six innings per start, Duffy’s endurance and efficiency was a pleasant surprise. Another interesting stat I found was Duffy’s home run rate. He cut his HR/9 (home runs allowed per nine innings) nearly in half from 2016 to 2017. It wasn’t the most productive year for Duffy, but still a solid one nonetheless.

What can we expect in 2018?

Steamer is not high on Danny Duffy heading into the 2018 season:

  • 29 starts
  • 180 innings pitched (6.21 innings per start)
  • 10-11 record
  • 4.31 ERA
  • 7.83 K/9

Interesting, to say the least. Duffy is incident-free, the healthiest he’s been in quite some time and is in the middle of his prime, but he’s going to regress? I’m not buying into it. The only two statistics I agree with Steamer on are starts and innings pitched. Assuming good health, 29 starts and 180 innings shouldn’t be difficult to reach. I’m taking a few over 10 wins and a few under 11 losses for Duffy in 2018. A 4.31 ERA is significantly too high – expect it to sit between 3.00-3.60 in 2018. Duffy’s career K/9 average is 7.8, but I’ll still take a bit over 7.83. Duffy should experience plenty of success this year (on and off the field) after such a stressful 2017.

The verdict 

Danny Duffy isn’t perfect. He’s not a prototypical “Ace,” but he’s a Kansas City Royals-type Ace. Considering he went through so much off the field in 2017, expect him to give his all to the team in 2018 and put forth one of his best seasons yet. Expecting Duffy to duplicate his 12-3 record from two years ago would be foolish, but it’s not out of the question for the rest of his statistics to match (or be better than) that season. 29 years old is the prime of a pitcher’s career, so expect to see that every time Danny Duffy is on the bump in 2018.

It doesn’t hurt to remember this, either:

What do you think, Royals fans? Is Danny Duffy going to put last year behind him? Will he peak this season? Did he already do so? Let us know what you have to say!