The Royals have been going through major starting pitching issues lately, with Chris Young and Kris Medlen serving as the main culprits for the rotation woes. The pair have combined for a 7.15 ERA in 56 2/3 innings with 4.9 walks per-nine-innings, and are averaging just 4.3 innings pitched per start. Chris Young has already worked himself out of the rotation, to be replaced by Dillon Gee, and may be headed to the disabled list. Kris Medlen is still scheduled to pitch Sunday's game against Atlanta, although a potential shoulder injury now puts that start in jeopardy.
Even if Medlen is not seriously hurt, it is time for him to give way in the rotation to Danny Duffy. I am not typically one to call for big moves after small sample sizes, and I have long been a fan of Kris Medlen, praising his signing as a high-upside move. But right now, it is clear Kris Medlen is not the Kris Medlen from before his Tommy John surgery with the Braves.
I thought Danny Duffy would stay in the bullpen if one of two things happened - (1) the current crop of starting pitchers was adequate; or (2) Danny Duffy was dominant in the bullpen. Neither of those is the case right now. Duffy has pitched well - he has a 3.00 ERA and 2.30 FIP to go with 10.5 strikeouts-per-nine innings, but he had some struggles early on. In any case, I don't think the Royals currently see him as an indispensable part of the bullpen, which is why a move to the rotation makes more sense. He is needed there.
|2016 PECOTA projection||4.18||4.67||131.1||7.1||3.4||0.6|
|2016 Steamer projection||3.52||4.10||117.0||7.6||3.1||0.8|
|2016 ZIPS projection||3.82||4.16||125.0||7.2||3.4||1.2
Of course, Danny Duffy is no sure thing. He has struggled with bouts of inconsistency and short outings in his career. In 54 starts the past three seasons, he has made it through six innings just 29 times (53.7%). Overall, Royals starting pitchers went at least six innings 65.8% of the time over the last three seasons combined.
Still, his numbers as a starting pitcher are quite good, and a huge improvement over what the Royals have been getting.
|Career, starting pitcher||ERA||FIP||GS||IP||K/9||BB/9||HR/9||IP/GS|
It may take some time to get Danny Duffy stretched out to starting again, perhaps he could piggy back with Medlen for Sunday's start. But the rotation needs help. They have the fifth-worst ERA among American League starting pitching staffs, and have walked the most hitters. Duffy still has the upside and potential that no other veteran option from inside the organization (Brian Flynn, Chien Ming Wang, Mike Minor) or outside the organization (Tim Lincecum, John Danks) currently has.
Danny Duffy is at a crossroads in his career. This may be his last shot at being a starting pitcher. The Royals are in dire straits. This may be just the circumstance Duffy needs to turn his career around and spark the Royals.