Danny Duffy is a pitcher. He is left-handed. He thows hard, quite hard. He strikes hitters out, almost eight hitters per nine innings pitched in his brief Major League career. He has a 1.85 ERA in five starts this year. He has faced tonight's opponent - the Detroit Tigers - twice this year, and given up two runs on three hits in 10 2/3 innings of work.
But you see, he has made just 31 career starts in The Show and is just twenty-four years old. He is not seasoned like crafty southpaw Bruce Chen. Bruce is thirty-six years old, hardly strikes anyone out, sports a 6.60 career ERA in Comerica Park, and as recently as ten weeks ago, was still in exile in the bullpen. But he is a veteran. He has been there before. I mean, who can forget his thrilling post-season performance with the....um.....Syracuse Chiefs? Reading Phillies? Danville Braves?
Manager Ned Yost decided to shuffle the rotation to skip Duffy's start tonight in order to get more starts for veterans.
"We've got 17 games left, and you want your most veteran, your most productive pitchers on the mound as often as you can."
If only Duffy had been productive this year, maybe he'd start.
Well, you know the rest. Alex Gordon chose a bad time to commit his first error this year, which in part led to a first inning Tigers run. But a fourth inning two-run home run by Prince Fielder was on Bruce, and the three-run fifth inning by the Tigers was also on Bruce. Chen departed after less than five frames (remember Duffy's weakness is he can't go deep in games!), leaving his team in a 5-1 deficit.
The Royals gamely battled back on sixth-inning RBI by Billy Butler (NOT CLUTCH) and Salvador Perez. In the eighth, the Royals loaded the bases with two outs and David Lough scheduled to hit. On the bench, ready to face closer Joaquin Benoit were George Kottaras, Carlos Pena (I know, ugh, but he can draw a walk and they needed baserunners), Lorenzo Cain (who is not bad against righties), and Justin Maxwell (decent as well, especially this year). Instead Yost let Lough - who has a reverse split and is worse against righties than lefties and has a .600 OPS since the start of August - weakly strike out to end the threat.
I've said all year that Ned is a perfectly cromulent manager when the stakes are low. Well, the stakes are high, and we're starting to see what kind of mistakes Ned made that got him fired with two weeks to go in Milwaukee. BOOM. Season Yosted.