Will the KC Royals face Danny Duffy this weekend?

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

For Danny Duffy, last summer’s trade that sent him from the KC Royals to the Dodgers had to be bittersweet. Kansas City was the only organization he’d ever known, the place he earned a $65 million contract and become a World Series champion.

California, though, is home, the place of his birth, and the Dodgers could assure him of another, and perhaps his last, trip to the postseason. The Royals could guarantee him nothing more than a continuing role in a rebuild.

But even in the face of Duffy’s second left flexor strain of the season, and his presence on the Injured List, the trade went through. Duffy became a Dodger July 29 and, despite his injury, figured immediately into the Dodgers’ stretch run and postseason plans.

Those plans were soon scrapped. Duffy didn’t make it back to the mound last year. He hasn’t pitched in a game this season after returning to LA on free agent deal. His long-awaited Dodger debut, however, is anticipated this month or next.

Will it come in time for him to pitch against his old team when the Dodgers and Royals open a three-game weekend series Friday night at Kauffman Stadium?

The chances of Danny Duffy pitching against the KC Royals are slim and none.

Don’t look for Duffy to break back into action this weekend. He’s still on the 60-day Injured List, where his 2021 season ended and his 2022 campaign began. There are no signs of an imminent return to the mound—the Dodgers, at least as of this writing, haven’t announced a minor league rehabilitation assignment for their veteran lefthander, something they’ll certainly require of him before he tests that troublesome left flexor against major league pitching.

Seeing Duffy working from the Kauffman mound would be nice, providing as it would an opportunity for Royals fans to pay tribute to a longtime KC rotation mainstay and popular player. They happily greeted another formal Royal last week when Eric Hosmer, now with the Red Sox, played at Kauffman for the first time since leaving for free agency after the 2017 season.

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Duffy deserves such a moment, too. Like Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar, he was set for free agency after 2017; but, after he went 12-3 with a 3.51 ERA in 2016—still his best big league season by far—he and the Royals got together and agreed on that $65 million mega-contract that kept him in Kansas City.

And although he never quite lived up to the financial magnitude of the deal, he remained loyal to the club and community, and seemed to have regained his 2016 form early last season—he was 4-1 with a minuscule 0.60 ERA in five starts before he gave up three runs in 5.2 against and lost to Cleveland May 6, then surrendered four runs in six innings May 12. The eight Tigers he struck out didn’t foretell what happened next.

The Royals put him on the IL less than a week later with the first of two 2021 flexor strains he’d suffer. He returned June 23, didn’t earn a decision while posting a 3.72 ERA in six games, and was back on the IL with the second flexor issue July 20.

The Dodgers obviously believed Duffy would recover and pitch for them last season. He didn’t.

And he probably won’t this weekend; if he was ready to come back to face the Royals, we’d know by now.

Whether Kansas City fans will ever see Duffy pitch again remains to be seen, although it’s unlikely if he remains in the National League. He’ll be a free agent again when this season ends … perhaps he and the Royals will reunite.

It could happen. Just ask Zack Greinke.

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Kansas City fans hoping to see Danny Duffy pitch this weekend will probably be disappointed.