Kansas City Royals: Assessing the Danny Duffy Situation

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 18: Starting pitcher Danny Duffy
KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 18: Starting pitcher Danny Duffy /

The Kansas City Royals’ season didn’t get off to the best start Thursday. Part of that was a result of Danny Duffy’s rough fourth inning. Was it just a bad game? Let’s talk about it.

Danny Duffy is the unquestioned Ace of the starting rotation. He’s the heart and soul of the Kansas City Royals. With that said, he’s not perfect. He has had some off-the-field issues. He’s struggled to stay healthy in the past. After a rough Spring Training and a tiny injury scare, some aren’t as confident in the left-hander as they were before the season began. Should we be concerned?

Looking in the Rearview Mirror

Duffy is not known for his durability. After making 20 starts his rookie season (2011), he pitched just 52 total innings between 2012-2013 as a result of Tommy John surgery. The following two seasons, Duffy’s combined record was 16-20 with an average of 143 innings pitched. 2016 was when all the pieces of the puzzle came together.

Two seasons ago, Duffy posted a 3.51 ERA and a 12-3 record in 179.2 innings of work (26 of his 42 appearances were as a starter). Despite his success, not many accepted Duffy as a bona fide starter. With a chip on his shoulder, Duffy made 24 starts last season, going 9-10 in the process. Battling injuries and a DUI, it wasn’t the resume-solidifying season he had hoped for.

Immediately after the 2017 season, the southpaw underwent a procedure to remove loose bodies from his pitching elbow. The arthroscopic procedure was successful and Duffy fully recovered within a couple months.

A rough start to 2018

Although the surgery and offseason were successful for Duffy, Spring Training was not. In five starts, the eight-year veteran tossed just 15 innings of baseball and had an ERA of 8.40. In addition to the bad numbers, he had to exit his final start of the spring with shoulder tightness. Fortunately for the Kansas City Royals, the tightness was his only issue and he still pitched on Opening Day.

Through his first three innings of the season, Duffy seemed locked in. Then, naturally, everything fell apart in the fourth inning. Allowing three home runs to the White Sox in that frame, Duffy finished his first outing of the year with five earned runs on the scorecard. It wasn’t the start fans were hoping for, although it’s just one game.

Final Thoughts

Let’s find a middle ground here. Danny Duffy doesn’t have a clean bill of health and is not the most reliable pitcher in the MLB. We know this. He’s also very solid when healthy and is undoubtedly the best starter on the team. Despite how rocky his spring was and how bad he looked in the fourth inning Thursday, the season literally just began. It is not even relatively close to being time to hit the panic button. If a month has passed and Duffy is still struggling, we can revisit this article. Until then, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and hope he can get back on track.

Next: The Past is the Future...For Now

What do you think, Royals fans? Let us know what you have to say in the comments?