There is no set rules for recovering from Tommy John surgery. The process, and the time needed, seems to be different from case-to-case. It has been nearly 14 months for Danny Duffy,and it seems he is about ready if the Kansas City Royals were to need him in the near future.
With trade rumors (or maybe just wishful thinking) flying around the organization involving players such as Ervin Santana, Luke Hochevar, and any number of prospects, the Royals have a chance to make a splash. How big a splash, if any at all, remains to be seen. Regardless, Danny Duffy may be moving from Omaha, for whatever the reasons.
Although his total numbers at AAA Omaha aren’t very good (4.50 ERA, 1.50 WHIP), they have been improving. Over his past 5 appearances, Duffy has thrown 27 innings. He has allowed just 5 runs (4 in one game) on 19 hits and 8 walks (1.67 ERA, 1.00 WHIP) with 24 strikeouts. He has thrown at least 5 innings in each of those five starts.
If the Royals were to deal Ervin Santana, which is appearing more and more unlikely, Duffy should be the first choice to take his rotation spot. Wade Davis bought himself more time with his 7 shut out innings this past Saturday but if Davis reverts to his less than stellar performances, and is moved back to the bullpen, Duffy would be the guy the Royals are most to likely call up to fill that rotation spot.
There is speculation the Royals are feeling out the Los Angeles Angels about second baseman, Howie Kendrick, and shortstop, Erick Aybar. The Angels appear to be looking for some high end prospects, or maybe a major league ready starting pitcher. Danny Duffy would fit the bill.
There would probably be an outcry from fans if the Royals traded Duffy but if they are going to acquire a bat such as Kendrick, something of value will need to go the other way. Duffy’s recent minor league numbers indicate he is close to being ready for major league action and he may be enough to pry Kendrick away from the Angels.
The Royals, at this exact minute, actually have some starting pitching depth, which hasn’t been the case for a very long (may be the 1098′s…?). If the Royals are serious about challenging for the wild card, or even the AL Central, they must upgrade the offense in general, and second base specifically. To acquire that upgrade, they will have to trade a pitcher. That pitcher very well could be Danny Duffy.
Duffy, still just 24 year old, is certainly a work in progress. The numbers from the small sampling of six games in 2012 showed a slight improvement in just about every area over his 2011 stats and ratios. He needs to improve his control and stamina but he definitely has the talent to intrigue other teams. It is unknown whether or not he is intriguing enough.
It would be sad to see Duffy leave the Royals this early in his career but it could help the Royals improve overall. It is something that has to be considered and understood by fans. Winning comes at at a cost and that price could include Danny Duffy.
Despite all this speculation, Duffy is pitching himself back into the Royals plans, in one form or another. If he isn’t traded, and Santana isn’t traded, he may have to spend the month of August in AAA, rebuilding his arm strength. If the Royals can make some noise and stay in post season contention, Duffy could be a big help to the Royals in September.
If he is still with the team next spring, he would have be considered a top contender for the rotation if his health holds up, and that is a good thing. Duffy is a talented pitcher.
No team can ever have too much pitching. It’s nice that Duffy’s recovery has actually given them some serious organizational depth. That is always a positive thing.