Throughout recent years, many of us have held hope that Danny Duffy would develop into a true frontline starter, while witnessing the glimpses of this aspiration the past few seasons. But with this, we hold our breath, owing to the fact that Duffy isn’t really the ideal example of a healthy pitcher. And we’ve had our fair share of scares with this. All you have to do is take a quick glance at his transactions log.
- May 14, 2012- Danny Duffy placed on the 15-day disabled list, left elbow tightness
- June 14, 2012- Danny Duffy transferred from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list, recovering from Tommy John surgery
- September 17, 2013- Danny Duffy placed on the 15-day disabled list, left flexor strain
- May 25, 2015- Danny Duffy placed on the 15-day disabled list, left biceps tendinitis
- May 30, 2017- Danny Duffy placed on the 10-day disabled list, strained right oblique
- August 26, 2017- Danny Duffy placed on the 10-day disabled list, left elbow impingement
This fears were heightened during his final start of Spring Training, when Duffy was flashing a dip in velocity. He ultimately ended up leaving the game, with a diagnosis of a tight shoulder. Concerns of Duffy missing his Opening Day start were quickly put to bed. But with knowing the history of Duffy’s arm, his velocity was definitely something to keep an eye on early in the season.
Allowing five runs over four innings, Duffy had noted struggles in his debut start for 2018. And the velocity issues ended up coming into play. According to Baseball Savant, his average fastball velocity sat at 91.2 MPH. Seeing how the matched up with first starts of previous seasons was a bit concerning.
2013- 94.3 MPH
2014- 92.9 MPH
2015- 94.4 MPH
2016- 95.6 MPH
2017- 93.1 MPH
2018- 91.2 MPH
Early in the game, Duffy was sitting at around 92 MPH, peaking at 93.7 MPH. Towards the end of his start, he was sitting closer to 89 MPH, bottoming out at 88.5 MPH (a pitch that was subsequently hit 435 feet at 115.1 MPH by Matt Davidson).
Also worth noting, out of the 97 games Duffy has appeared in since the start of 2015, his average fastball velocity on Thursday ranked, well... 97th.
A Danny Duffy that sits at 94-95 MPH can be an imposing pitcher for major league hitters. A Danny Duffy that sits at 90-91 MPH... not so much. The exit velocity numbers line right up with that statement, as out of the 97 games Duffy has appeared in since the start of 2015, his average exit velocity on Thursday ranked... you guessed it... 97th.
So what does mean for the future? First off, the focus on Duffy’s velocity early in the season should remain very high. Maybe this dip is a fluke, maybe it isn’t. Maybe this is just some small issue, maybe it is the start of something much worse. But what’s for sure is that when a guy that is coming off offseason elbow surgery is having velocity issues, your concern levels are at a very high point.