The first start of the year for Duffy was really nice, but playing Oakland's lackluster lineup in their pitcher friendly ballpark seemed like it might have something to do with his success. Last night Duffy got a true test in the Detroit Tigers who have one of the top offenses in baseball this year, maybe even the best.
Well, I was hoping to post some PITCHf/x charts from fangraphs.com, but the SBNation interface isn't cooperating, so instead I will describe what I need to. I don't know how anyone could have seen Duffy's performance against the Tigers and been disappointed. He almost made it through the 7th inning, and only gave up three runs, had a strikeout an inning, and only one walk. The two home runs were the only problem, which you could argue cost the Royals the game, but I would give Verlander the credit there. Anyway, beyond the typical stats there is one very encouraging sign to take away from Duffy's performance last night and that is his fastball velocity. Against Oakland Danny was 90 to 96 with his fastball, but against Detroit he was mostly sitting 95 to 99 according to the fangraph charts. This will help in two ways if Duffy can continue to run the fastball into the upper 90s. The first is the obvious assertion that hitting a 98mph fastball is harder than hitting a 93mph fastball if they have the same break, and it looks like is vertical movement was even a touch better on his fastball at the higher speeds last night. The second reason this will help is speed differential. Duffy's secondary pitches tend to go in two tiers of velocity with one being in the mid 80s and the other in the upper 70s. This was consistent from game one to two, which means that the difference in velocity from his fastball to his offspeed pitches (PITCHf/x is not doing a great job of classifying his pitches so I won't try to identify which pitches these are cutter/changeup) was greater against Detroit. If Duffy can establish this fastball as his baseline it will give him one of the best power arsenals in baseball and improve the effectiveness of his secondary pitches. Now he just needs to work on being a little more efficient with his pitches so that he can get deeper into games and he could easily be the best pitcher for the Royals this season.