Danny Duffy is considered part of the future hope of the Kansas City Royals. Yesterday's performance showed that he might understand just how needed he is.
It's a dire situation the Royals pitching staff is in. Even if 2011 another lost season on Kansas City's way to future redemption whenever the cavalry eventually comes riding in, the team needs to address the pitching woes now to avoid burning out some of the young arms on the way to that future. Aaron Crow and Tim Collins could be strong components of any successful future staff. But if Ned Yost and company tire their arms at this point, what use are they?
We recently took a look at the horrible Royals starting pitching -- one that's thrown the least amount of innings in the AL even though KC has pitched the second most overall. That means the bullpen is being taxed at a ridiculous rate. That's not sustainable even for one season, but consider what it could do to the young live arms Dayton Moore has been drafting and you have some real issues at stake.
Enter Danny Duffy who threw his second least amount of pitches in a game last night, but was incredible efficient enough to move the team through seven full innings. He allowed 2 runs in 7 innings and had some of his best command yet. The Royals bats didn't exactly come alive, but they strung together just enough offense to overcome the Cubs. And they had a pitcher who kept them in the game long enough to do just that to thank.
This kind of performance provides a gem in a season like this, but the reality is that the Royals need this to become par for the course for Duffy. In seven previous starts, three of them have went for four or less innings. Four. It's those kind of outings that leave the bullpen to mop up for far too long, and to this point, it's brought questions Dayton Moore's way, wondering why he's throwing young starters in the major leagues when they're not quite ready enough. Until yesterday.
It's hard to tell whether Duffy is learning enough at the ML level to be efficient and carry the team every five days or whether the Cubs bats were just off on Saturday. But if this is a glimpse of a young pitcher turning the corner and learning how to go deeper into games, then that's just what KC's doctor ordered. Starting pitching woes will continue to plague this team for some time, but Duffy could be a nice start.