The Danny Duffy Dilemma

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Spring training is near. The Royals are basically sound at every position with just a few lingering questions surrounding second base and right field. It would appear that they have a couple more spots on their pitching staff sealed as well, thanks to the recent additions of Ian Kennedy and Joakim Soria. Since Kennedy will be slotted in behind right-handers Edinson Volquez and Yordano Ventura, this leaves only two final starting rotation spots. With those two spots up for grabs, it begs the question – Where does Danny Duffy fit into all of this?

Believe it or not, the future of Duffy could make for one of the more interesting story lines in spring training. At this point, there are essentially two possible scenarios for the 27 year-old left hander. He could find himself rounding out the back end of the starting rotation, where he had substantial success in 2014. The other likely scenario is that he could find himself strengthening the Royals already outstanding bullpen. Another lefty would mean joining the likes of Luke Hochevar, Kelvin Herrera, Joakim Soria, and Wade Davis. One other option involves Duffy taking on both roles much like he did in 2015.

“I can’t really go in with either mind-set,” Duffy said, upon returning to Kansas City last weekend for the organization’s annual Fan Fest. “I suppose I better just be ready for whatever, and I am, for sure.”

Chris Young and Kris Medlen were added to bolster the starting rotation in 2015 and will most likely be receiving looks as starters during spring training. With Young turning 36 and Medlen still getting re-acclimated to pitching after two Tommy John surgeries, it’s possible that Duffy could find himself starting the season in one role, before converting to another at a later date.

For the majority of his career, Duffy has been profiled as a left-handed starter with immense upside. Featuring a fastball that can touch the mid-90s as well as an effective curveball, Duffy can be viewed as a possibly dominant bullpen weapon. His failures as a starter stood out most in 2015. One year after his career best season as a starter, Duffy posted a 4.35 ERA in twenty-four starts. He finished the 2015 season in the bullpen after transitioning to the role in September, where he stayed for the duration of the postseason. In his postseason relief appearances, he allowed four earned runs in six appearances.

“Danny Duffy is a guy, as we saw last year, he could be very valuable out of the pen,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He could be very valuable as a starter, too.”

The Royals are in a great position heading into spring training. They have no shortage of potential starters or bullpen pieces. It’s a matter of finding the role for Danny Duffy that benefits the ball club the most. Even though the final two starting roles are in a state of uncertainty, one thing is for sure: Duffy is willing to fit in wherever he is needed.

“I’m at the point where, ‘Give me a spot and I’ll do whatever I can to make the team better.’ That’s where I’m at right now.”

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