Sept. 5: Manager Ned Yost confirmed that Duffy’s season is over, Flanagan tweets. With the team’s most veteran arm done for the year, Jakob Junis will be the most experienced arm heading up a six-man rotation. Brad Keller, Heath Fillmyer, Jorge Lopez, Eric Skoglund and Glenn Sparkman could all be in line for starts down the stretch.
[Related: Kansas City Royals depth chart]
Sept. 4: Royals left-hander Danny Duffy exited tonight’s start after being charged with three runs in just two-thirds of an inning, with the team later announcing that he exited due to a left shoulder impingement. Following the game, Duffy told Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com that he expects to be shut down for the rest of the season (Twitter link).
While there’s been no formal declaration from the team just yet, the Royals have every reason to exercise caution. Kansas City was mathematically eliminated from postseason contention quite some time ago and was never considered a contender heading into the season. Duffy is quite arguably the team’s most important starter, as he’s owed $46MM from 2019-21 as part of a five-year, $65MM contract extension he signed prior to the 2017 season. He already missed 10 days due to a left shoulder impingement last month, and he’d struggled for much of the season even before landing on the disabled list.
Duffy, 29, was the Royals’ best starter from 2016-17 but saw his ERA balloon to 4.88 following today’s ugly outing. His strikeout rate has remained in line with his mark from 2017, but Duffy’s walk, home-run, ground-ball, line-drive, hard-contact and swinging-strike rates have all gone in the wrong direction. Prior to tonight’s start, Statcast measured the average exit velocity of balls in play against Duffy to be up by 2.1 mph from 2017 — further lending credence to the notion that he’s surrendering far too much hard contact on the season.
Had Duffy been healthier in 2018, he’d no doubt have seen his name kicked around the rumor circuit in the weeks leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline — and possibly even into the month of August. However, there’s little reason to think the Royals would even entertain the thought of selling low on Duffy. In fact, the Royals may not even be eyeing as lengthy of a rebuild as was once expected. General manager Dayton Moore told the Kansas City Star’s Maria Torres back in late July that he and his front office deliberately targeted upper-level prospects in some of this summer’s trades, hoping to infuse some youth into the roster and to put together a more competitive club as soon as 2019 or 2020.