The Kansas City Royals’ transformation from heroes to zeroes is best exemplified by the stunning decline of alleged ace Danny Duffy.
It’s hard to believe we’re only 3 years removed from the Royals being at the top of the mountain, polishing off the New York Mets in a quick five games in the World Series, setting off a wild celebration that is still talked about today.
The Royals were competitive in both 2016 and 2017, but now have descended into the depths of despair.
And leading the charge is Duffy.
I’ve always thought of the lefty as somewhat of an enigma, from his days in the minors when he took a short time away from the game to re-evaluate himself to his incident of going through a Burger King drive-thru where he wound up being arrested for DUI as he was passed out at the wheel.
The Royals have invested a lot of money and shown great faith in Duffy to lead a rebuilt pitching staff, which has wobbled with a collective 5.29 ERA. But he has started seven games without registering a win as he’s 0-4 with a 5.63 ERA and spent Wednesday craning his neck around to watch the Boston Red Sox take him yard on four occasions, three times by Mookie Betts.
A pattern for Duffy is for the Royals to hand him a lead and it’s like a wet bar of soap. The Royals jumped out quickly 3-0 on Wednesday and Duffy looked like a million dollars for three innings.
But the big inning is haunting him. He gave up three runs in the fourth and one in the fifth and the Royals never recovered in losing for the 22nd time in 30 games.
Duffy has given up 9 home runs in just 38 innings. Yet, he has 34 strikeouts, so the stuff is there. With Duffy, it’s always about the mindset.
His status as ace has been assumed by Jakob Junis, who has 3 of the Royals’ 8 wins. But Ned Yost will keep running Duffy out there because he knows there’s nobody else and also knows if he can somehow find his form, he can be a stopper.
Perhaps Duffy tries to be too fine and feels like he needs to throw a shutout every time he takes the mound. After all, he’s backed by an offense that has scored just 106 runs in 30 games (yikes!) and is hitting just .249. Some of that can be attributed to the cold weather, but it’s just a fact the Royals have a patchwork lineup that receives a third of its home runs from Mike Moustakas.
Duffy is only 29 and still has time to get it figured out. The Royals desperately need for him to find it as the farm system is void of pitching and free agent pitchers seldom give them a second look. But he’s been with the Royals for a hard-to-believe 8 years now and he’s 45-47 with a highly respectable 3.82 ERA, though only once has he pitched 150 innings in a season. But take away his 12-3 season in 2016 when he was one of the baseball’s pitchers and he’s been mediocre.
Let’s hope Duffy can figure it out. Royals fans love his devotion to the team and he’s always said he wants to be in Kansas City as long as it will have him.