Let’s not beat around the bush, the Kansas City Royals have had one of the worst rotations in MLB over the past four or five years. They’ve simply been miserable. All that has changed this year, as they have welcomed in James Shields, Wade Davis, Ervin Santana, and a full season of Jeremy Guthrie. With all these fun, new names, it’s easy to forget a guy with plenty of talent that lingers on the fringes going into this season.
Danny Duffy has the chance to be a breakout player for fantasy baseball in 2013. After going under the knife for Tommy John last season, Duffy is due to return to action in late May or early June. That leaves plenty of time, and innings, for Duffy to contribute to our fantasy teams.
Before undergoing surgery, Duffy was quietly starting to figure things out. From a talent standpoint, it has always been clear to me that he was going to be a star. He pitches in the upper 90s from the left side and has a very nice breaking ball. However, his change-up development was really the difference in 2012, as he started to put things together.
In six starts, Duffy posted a strikeout per nine rate of 9.1. While it is obviously a very small sample size, he bested Justin Verlander, David Price, Clayton Kershaw, and Cole Hamels in this category. Duffy was well on this way to becoming an elite level strikeout pitcher, and I think he will only continue to improve as he regains command over his pitches.
However, Duffy is not just a strikeout pitcher. He also contributes in ERA (3.90 in 2012) and can potentially win many more games this year on a much-improved Royals team.
Obviously the biggest concern with Duffy is going to be how he returns from Tommy John. Many pitchers, such as Stephen Strasburg, have come back better than ever, but yet some come back and are never the same. That obviously remains to be seen with Duffy, but I have a good feeling that he has been working extremely hard to get back. I’ve always gotten the impression that he was a hard worker.
Due to the fact that Duffy will be out for the first couple months of the season, there is a good chance you will not even need to draft him this spring. If he can be a free agent pickup, than anything he gives you will be a great bonus. I see Duffy pitching about 125 innings this year and striking out somewhere in the ballpark of 110-120 batters. I’ll give him an ERA of around 3.70 and an improved WHIP, closer to 1.35.
If those stats sound good to you, go ahead and snatch Duffy up. He could be the best value of the entire 2013 draft.