FanPost

Danny Duffy and Pitch Counts

Ed Zurga

In 2013 Danny Duffy has again shown impressive stuff but has been held back by an inability to go deep in games. In Monday's game Duffy threw 91 pitches in only 3.2 innings.

Since the year 2000, there have been 287 pitcher seasons where the pitcher in one of his first three seasons maintained under a 4.0 ERA and pitched greater than 5 games (60% starts). Of those 287, Duffy in 2012 had the highest pitches per inning at 19.05. I was curious was sort of careers were had by players who struggled with pitch counts despite keeping runs off the board.

The average pitches per inning for the group was 17.03. Here are pitcher seasons with higher than 17.25 pitches/inning and how the pitchers have fared since:

Name Season Age Pitches per Inning ERA Games Started Since WAR since WAR per Year since
Danny Duffy 2012 23 19.0482 3.9 3 0.7 0.7
Adam Loewen 2007 23 18.7582 3.56 4 -0.5 -0.5
Kazuhisa Ishii 2003 29 18.1497 3.86 47 -0.4 -0.2
Randall Delgado 2011 21 17.7714 2.83 31 0.5 0.2
Chad Billingsley 2006 21 17.7556 3.8 174 15.4 2.2
Scott Kazmir 2005 21 17.7151 3.77 164 13.8 1.7
Clayton Kershaw 2009 21 17.7076 2.79 126 25.3 6.3
Marc Rzepczynski 2009 23 17.7065 3.67 12 1.2 0.2
Scott Olsen 2005 21 17.7049 3.98 123 1.3 0.3
Rick Ankiel 2000 20 17.6229 3.5 6 -0.7 -0.4
Drew Smyly 2012 23 17.5973 3.99 0 2.3 2.3
Matt Garza 2007 23 17.5181 3.69 162 14.4 2.1
Erik Bedard 2005 26 17.3859 4 162 14.3 1.8
Josh Geer 2008 25 17.3704 2.67 17 -1.5 -1.5
Mark Prior 2002 21 17.3486 3.32 87 12.7 3.2
Noah Lowry 2005 24 17.3306 3.78 53 3.2 1.6
Kerry Wood 2001 24 17.3231 3.36 101 17.7 1.5
Daisuke Matsuzaka 2008 27 17.3201 2.9 57 -0.6 -0.1
Graham Godfrey 2011 26 17.32 3.96 4 -0.6 -0.6
Luke Hudson 2004 27 17.2552 2.42 32 -0.5 -0.2

Pitchers with extremely high pitches per inning (>17.75) did not tend to stick in the rotation, with the exception of Scott Olsen who has had plenty of starts despite his poor performance. For the optimists, there are some names that stand out above 17.5 pitches per inning, including Billingsly, Kazmir, Kershaw, and Garza. Unfortunately, among those only Garza's season came after his age 21 season, as he was 23 like Duffy in 2012.

All in all, I think these numbers show that Duffy's high pitch counts are a real indication that the Royals should be cautious when counting on him as the #2/3 starter they are hoping for. Since returning from injury in 2013, Duffy has continued to struggle with pitch counts, posting 19.8 pitches per inning in four starts. However, Duffy has only had nine starts in 2012/2013, so here's hoping more experience (not to mention the influence of Big Game James) will make a difference.

An interesting note, although I can't speak to Duffy's batting ability, two of the players in the >17.5 pitches/inning range were later converted to position players (Loewen and Ankiel).

Raw data c/o Baseball Reference.

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.

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