The 2021 Kansas City Royals had the best record in the MLB at the end of April. Now halfway through the season, they are now on pace to lose nearly 100 games. The Royal Rollercoaster has derailed and all that’s left now is to determine how many casualties there are and who needs to be blamed for the tragedy.
Danny Duffy will get the start for KC, today. He’s been something of a bright spot with his 2.44 ERA entering action today, but he was also injured and out for a good chunk of the season and the Royals have been treating him bizarrely ever since his return first not sending him on a rehab assignment then simultaneously keeping him in the rotation and having him pitch out of the bullpen. As to how far Duffy will pitch in today’s game, your guess is as good as mine. The scary part is that your guess may be as good as Duffy’s or manager Mike Matheny’s, too.
The Twins are using right-hander Griffin Jax as tonight’s starter. It will be his first MLB start following four long relief appearances. He has a 7.82 ERA and a 7.74 FIP so far in his major league career and no scoreless appearances. He was not even a top-30 prospect in the Twins’ system but his best pitch is supposedly a changeup followed by a slider. He does use his fastball more than both of those pitches combined and the heatmaps on Baseball Savant suggest that he has a problem missing out over the middle. Brooks Baseball summarizes him thusly:
His fourseam fastball has an obvious tail, has some natural sinking action, has essentially average velo and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers. His slider is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers’ sliders, generates fewer whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ sliders, has short glove-side cut and has some two-plane movement. His change generates fewer whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ changeups, has slight armside fade and has some natural sink to it. His curve is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers’ curves, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ curves, has a sharp downward bite, is slightly harder than usual and has primarily 12-6 movement.
This all amounts to a description of a pitcher who simply isn’t very good. The Royals should be able to get to him. We all know what that means.
Danny Duffy is 9-3 in 23 career starts vs. Minnesota, his 3.11 ERA vs. the Twins is his lowest against any AL Central opponent. Here's how we will line up behind him this afternoon.#TogetherRoyal pic.twitter.com/YbZzkO55T9— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) July 3, 2021
It is unclear at this time why Ryan O’Hearn couldn’t get in the starting lineup over Jorge Soler or Hanser Alberto despite hitting well since his latest call-up and the opposing pitcher being right-handed.