It’s time to pay attention to Danny Duffy. Again.

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Here is the thing: Danny Duffy was supposed to be the ace that the Royals needed to build their pitching staff around, and during his ten years with them he has shown stretches of performance that made it look like he would deliver on that promise.

The highest point in his career, so far, was during the 2016 and 2017 seasons when he was able to do things like setting the Royals’ single-game record for straikeouts, with 16:

It looked like the southpaw was on track to achieve greater things, but then the baseball gods had other things in mind: Duffy had control and injury issues that prevented him to improve his performance and have not been able to pitch a full qualified season since 2016 (his only).

Duffy used to reach 95-ish mph with his fastball early in his pitching career (2016 and before), but has seen a decline in his speed and is throwing it at around 92 mph these days. Despite those 16 strikeouts in one game in 2016, he’s never been an out of this world strikeout guy; his career K% and BB% are pretty average, 20.9% and 8.6% respectively, giving him a regular-to-mediocre 12.3% K%-BB%. His all-time K/9 is a less-than-impressive 7.98, too.

So, what is there to like about Duffy, now?

The start of the season has brought us a somehow improved version of Duffy, an enhanced 2016 version.

On one hand, he is striking out a lot more people this season; almost 30% more batters per 9 innings than his career average for a K/9 of 10.29 and a K% of 27.9% which is on par or better than Lance Lynn’s, Brandon Woodruff’s, Dylan Bundy’s and Hyun-Jin Ryu’s.

But that’s not the only improvement Duffy is showing, he is also walking batters near the lowest level of his career, for a 6.9% BB%, close to his prime 2016-2017 numbers; all of this is leading to a career-best 20.8% K%-BB%, good to be number 18 among all the qualified SPs.

This is what 2020 important numbers look for Duffy:

Now, how does this translate into his performance?

As frequently happens, Duffy’s 2020 ERA and W-L record of 4.11 and 2-2 are deceiving; he has started 7 games so far, four of them against the White Sox (1) and the Twins (3) which are 3rd and 9th in HR in MLB and have hit between them 5 of the 6 homers Duffy has allowed so far.

Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert, twin-like baseball crushers, took Duffy out of the park, 08/28.

That was rough. But even when it was not the best start for him, he was still able of doing this:

Great location and a good mix of his pitching material.

In five of his appearances, he’s pitched at least 5 innings, he has also allowed 2 or less earned runs in four games, including three where he only permitted one ER. His only two starts that can be singled out as bad were: a 5 IP game against Detroit and his first 4 IP effort against Minnesota, allowing 4 ER in each of them; those are the games that are bloating his ERA and were not that disastrous, to be honest.

These numbers from Duffy are very useful; his K% should be for real the rest of the season and there is still time for his BB% to go down as he has not reached the number of innings for stabilization for that stat, and he has not issued more than two walks in any of his last 4 starts.

What can we expect from Duffy for the rest of the season? Let’s look at some key indicators:

CSW, (K-BB)/ip, Zone%, and F-Strike% are the most important indicators on the isolated ability a pitcher has: take batters out before reaching base by the way of striking them out or letting them reach it because of walks.

While these figures might not look impressive, they are far from average, and they are good for a Top 35 position according to Kwindex; that’s as good as other pitchers like Zack Greinke, Pablo López, and Andrew Heany. If BB% keeps the good trend, he can possibly reach Top 30 status.

A 3.50 ERA is on the horizon and a good number of Ks too, just keep in mind that he won’t usually go deep in the game so Ws or QS won’t be abundant.

Duffy is available in 75% of the Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball public leagues.


All data used was taken from https://www.fangraphs.com/https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/, and/or https://www.baseball-reference.com/, unless otherwise stated different. pCRA data was taken from this spreadsheet, maintained by its creator Connor Kurcon.

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