Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Danny Duffy's 2014 Role

Over the past couple of seasons that aren't many Royals that have tantalized Royals fans as much as former third round pick Danny Duffy. Heading into 2014, there are few in the organization that could prove to be a bigger difference maker than the lefty. According to the Kansas City Star's Pete McCullough, the Royals are finally ready to pull the reins off their young hurler. Here's what Duffy had to say on the subject:
"I feel like I'm definitely ready. Judging by my bullpen sessions out here. I've really been doing well."
The Royals went safe in their off-season acquisitions from the rotation and it is mainly because of the upside that they see in Duffy, Yordano Ventura, and Kyle Zimmer. Thus far in Duffy's career he has been worth nearly 2 fWAR, and holds a 4.75 ERA, these numbers don't exactly breed a ton of confidence, especially when you notice the 4.75 walk rate. But if you've watched Danny Duffy over the past couple of seasons, the potential is undeniable.

What Duffy needs to do is to trust his outstanding stuff. Even more than that Duffy needs to trust his defense. As far as the stuff is concerned, Duffy is fantastic. He can dial up the fastball to the mid 90s and he has shown the ability to snap off a nasty curveball. We also know that the Royals defense is fantastic. Based off these things, one would think that a breakout is right around the corner.

Duffy tends to be way to fine with his pitches. He'll often jump ahead in the count only to forfeit the advantage after he nibbles on the outside corner. Strikeouts are definitely a good thing, but Duffy needs to accept that he can't strike out every hitter. If Duffy can go on to the attack even after getting ahead in the count, he'll be much better off. If he can do this he can go deeper into games and eat more innings.

After the Bruce Chen signing, it appears that there is only one rotation spot up for grabs. There has even been some discussion that if Duffy loses out on the battle for this last spot that he could surface in the Royals bullpen. As I have said in regards to Yordano Ventura, I hope that this isn't the case.

While Duffy could learn some aggressiveness in the bullpen, I'd rather Duffy continue to log innings as a starter in Omaha. More importantly than learning how to air it out, Duffy needs to learn how to go deep into games. This is a characteristic that he won't learn in the bullpen.

Dayton Moore says that he envisions Duffy as a part of the 2015 rotation. Duffy, who is under team control for four more seasons has much more value in this capacity. It would be an enormous shame for a starter so close to contributing at the Major League level to be moved to the bullpen, unless it is with eyes toward moving him back to the rotation in the future.

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