Is Danny Duffy Turning the Corner?

Danny Duffy made his Major League debut on May 18 with a tough assignment against the Texas Rangers. Not too surprisingly, he only lasted four innings after walking six batters. The 22-year old lefty was promoted after throwing 42.0 innings at Triple-A and posting strong skills including a 48/10 K:BB ratio. So far with a 4.58 ERA and 104 xFIP-, he has not embarrassed himself, but has probably been a bit of a disappointment for fans of his.

As what usually happens when a starter transitions to the Majors, Duffy’s strikeout rate has dropped. After never falling below the 8.9 mark at any stop during his minor league journey, his K/9 sits at a decent, and still above league average, 7.5. His SwStk% and Contact% are exactly at the league average marks, so his K/9 at this moment looks to be around where it should be, if not a smidge too high.

Control has been the biggest issue. While he has struggled with this at times in the minors, it has always come during very small samples and was much better over longer periods of time. His F-Strike% is just 51.7%, well below the 59.1% league average, and supports the poor walk rate. Given the good control he has displayed during most of his time down on the farm, I would expect his walk rate to steadily improve. Unfortunately, Duffy has a neutral batted ball profile, and was similarly ground ball neutral in the minors. That is not too terrible though as Kauffman Stadium depresses home runs rather significantly.

The good news is that his pitch repertoire looks rather impressive. He features a fastball that has averaged 93.5 miles per hour, which would be above average for a righty, but being a lefty, this is an excellent mark. In fact, this ranks him third amongst all lefty starters in baseball in velocity. He also throws a curve and change-up over 10% of the time, and has thrown in a slider every once in a while.

Now back to the question I posed in the post title. In July, Duffy has struck out a batter per inning and only walked four in three starts over 18 innings. Now, I am not typically one to even mention such a small sample of starts, but for a rookie pitcher, it could carry some significance as he continues to gain experience and make adjustments. His July xFIP is just 2.96, whereas his May and June marks were well above 4.00. The Royals actually have a pretty good defense for a change, ranking seventh in baseball in UZR/150. Even their offense has been decent, as they find themselves in the middle of the pack in wOBA. With quality stuff, a surprisingly decent team supporting him on both offense and defense, and a forgiving home park, Duffy looks like an interesting guy to go after in deeper leagues and a good target in keepers.




Print This Post

Mike Podhorzer produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. He also sells beautiful photos through his online gallery, Pod's Pics. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.


13 Responses to “Is Danny Duffy Turning the Corner?”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. Jason says:

    I’ll skip him against Boston, because sorry, there’s no way I’d risk that next week. The Cleveland start looks appealing, though.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Mike Podhorzer says:

      Agreed, no way you start him there. For non-owners though, it’s a good chance to possibly watch him stink and see his trade value drop a bit. Might be able to acquire him even cheaper!

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Paul says:

        I don’t think his value has anywhere to go but up. If he bombs against Boston, which would be the first start where he just didn’t compete, I think that would be expected by most fans. He had a decent outing in his third MLB start at Texas, so while I understand that Fenway has some magical ability to make opposing pitchers wilt, he’s shown that he’s not going to be afraid.

        The fearlessness is his best attribute. Through at least half a dozen outings he couldn’t get his offspeed over at all for at least the first three innings and he still competed with just the FB, which he was overthrowing. The CB is a true 11-5 breaker, which really vexes hitters when its one, having to adjust the swing to two planes. When the change is also on, he has the stuff of a frontline No. 2 since he can reach back for 97.

        In other words, now is the time to buy. You’ll get innings and a few good starts in before the end of the season, and for keepers I don’t think he’ll rank much behind Hellickson by next season’s draft.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. geo says:

    I agree that small samples can be useful sometimes, particularly when you are looking at a young, evolving pitcher. I’ve watched all of Duffy’s starts and you can literally see him adjusting and getting just a little better each time. It would be different if he the opposite was happening.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • noseeum says:

      “you can literally see him adjusting…”

      You’re right. The slide rule, ipad, scientific calculator and radar gun on the mound are a little distracting at times, but I appreciate the effort out there.

      :P

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Mike W says:

    Yeah, I’ve had him since he came up, and it looks like he kind of took a while to start trusting his stuff and challenging hitters, and as a result walked a lot of guys. He’s pretty much behind that now.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Jeffrey Gross says:

    Duffy’s past 6 are baseball’s best kept secret:
    http://twitpic.com/5tmm66

    Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>