TODAY: It seems as though Duffy’s setback may not have been all that serious, as he officially began his minor league rehab assignment today by tossing an inning for the Dodgers’ Arizona Complex League team. While it remains to be seen how long it will take Duffy to ramp up, it looks like there could still be some hope that he pitches in the majors before the season is out.
AUGUST 16: Dodgers left-hander Danny Duffy suffered a recent setback in his rehab from a flexor injury, manager Dave Roberts announced to reporters (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya). While the Dodgers aren’t completely ruling Duffy out for as an option down the stretch, Roberts conceded that it is “pretty unlikely” that Duffy will pitch in a game this year.
The setback — Duffy experienced “discomfort” when facing live hitters — is the latest in a series of health woes that have combined to keep Duffy off a Major League mound since July 16, 2021. The Dodgers are clearly intrigued by Duffy’s solid track record and perhaps by a raw arsenal they feel they can better maximize than the Royals were able to over the course of Duffy’s 11-year tenure there; Los Angeles traded for Duffy at last year’s deadline (despite him being on the injured list at the time) and re-signed him to a one-year, $3MM deal with a team option for the 2023 season this past winter.
Prior to the season, Duffy voiced a belief that he could be back on a Major League mound sometime in June. The plan was to bring him back as a relief pitcher, at least for the current season, though a return to the rotation in ’23 might have been in the cards had things gone according to plan. That, of course, didn’t happen, and it’s difficult to imagine a world where the Dodgers pick up a $7MM club option on him. In all likelihood, that option will be turned down and Duffy will again set out into free agency. If the team remains intrigued by the idea of Duffy taking the mound at Dodger Stadium, they could always circle back and show interest in bringing him aboard on a smaller guarantee or a minor league deal.
Duffy, 34 in December, has never pitched for a team other than the Royals, despite now technically spending a season and a half as a member of the Dodgers. He’s made 204 big league starts plus another 30 relief appearances, at times flashing signs of brilliance but also struggling with inconsistency. From 2014-17, Duffy logged 612 innings and pitched to a 3.47 ERA with a 21% strikeout rate and 7.4% walk rate. On the whole, he carries a 3.95 ERA in 1172 1/3 innings at the big league level.