The Kansas City Royals have two young starting pitchers who look very promising in Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura. The problem is it is doubtful the Royals can have both in the starting rotation at the same time.
Neither Duffy or Ventura have any kind of history throwing deep into games – not in the majors, and not in the minors. If the Royals had two starters in their rotation who could only go 5 innings most starts, it would be a tremendous strain the bullpen, not matter how talented that bullpen may be.
In 31 career starts at the major league level, Duffy has averaged 5.1 innings per start. In only one of his career starts did Duffy throw less than 80 pitches. In 17 starts, he has tossed between 80 and 99 pitches, and 13 times he has thrown more than 100. That is way too many pitches over just 5 innings of work, on a consistent basis.
He wasn’t much better in the minors. He appeared in 90 games as a minor leaguer, 86 of which were starts. He accumulated only 419 total innings. Even if you ignored the four relief appearances as if they didn’t happen, and he just had the 86 starts, Duffy only averaged 4.87 innings per outing.
Ventura, in the smallest of major league sample sizes, also averaged 5.1 innings per start, over just three starts. The most pitches he threw was 86, so in this small sampling, he was more economical than Duffy in the same amount of innings per game.
As minor leaguer, Ventura has just 5 more total appearances than Duffy, but also but 14 game of those games came in relief. He innings pitched is very close to Duffy’s as he had 415 total innings.
Again, if you just throw out the games pitched in relief, and just pretend he has just the 81 starts and 415 innings, then Ventura averaged 5.1 a start. Of course, the real total is less because he did have 14 relief appearances.
There is nothing in their history that indicates that either Duffy or Ventura can pitch deep into games on a regular basis. Both are of a slender build – Duffy is listed as 6’3″, 200 pounds, and Ventura at 5’11”, 180, and neither has great control.
Duffy averages 4.7 walks issued per 9 innings as a major leaguer, after walking 3 hitters per 9 in the minors. Ventura walked 3.5 in his 3 starts for the Royals and 3.1 over his minor league career.
Because of their physical stature and their history, it is hard to imagine either of them turning into an innings eating workhorse anytime soon. Yes, both are still young – Duffy is 24, and Ventura two years younger – but both would have to get significantly stronger, and be more consistent with their control to pitch deeper into games.
The point is that there is nothing to indicate that either one will become a 180-200 innings guy anytime soon. Thusly, it is very difficult to see the Royals with two low innings starters in their rotation at the same. It would follow that one of them has to go.
Which one? Ventura looks like the most exciting of the two pitchers as his stuff just pops. On the other hand, the list of pitchers that small who had long, productive careers while maintaining anything even close to that velocity (around 100 mph on the fastball), cannot be a very long one. What if he is the next Pedro Martinez? Well, there is a reason there is only one Pedro Martinez. The odds are not in favor of Ventura here.
Duffy has already had his arm injury, having Tommy John surgery in 2012. He is not as exciting as Ventura to watch, and his lack of control is sometimes frustrating, but he isn’t chopped liver as a prospect either.
The question becomes which one can help the Royals win the most games in the next two or three years? The answer to that is probably Duffy, if for no other reason than he has had his major surgery, and Ventura looks to be a candidate for some issues down the road, because of his size and how hard he throws.
So, why not trade one? Surely, both have some real value. Why not look to package Ventura and maybe Lorenzo Cain for a bigger outfield bat. Or maybe one of these guys and a bullpen arm, or prospect for a true number two pitcher with a few yeas of team control left?
First of all, the Royals would need a trading partner. Look, this information is readily available to everyone. None of the things here are going to come as a surprise to any general manager in the majors. If the Royals know these stats, then so does everyone else.
Even so, surely there is a team or two out there who is willing to take a chance on the potential of one of these Royals’ pitchers. The question is if those teams have what Kansas City needs, and will they be willing to give the right player (s) up?
If General Manager Dayton Moore can’t, or won’t, trade either Duffy or Ventura, he better hope one or the other, or both, develop into pitchers without injury issues, and can develop more stamina. If the Royals don’t trade Yordano Ventura, they need him to become the next Pedro Martinez, or at least a decent copy of the star.
One thing is certain, the Royals cannot afford to have two pitchers in the rotation who can only produce 10-11 innings each time through the rotation. No bullpen could take that for very long.