Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Yordano Ventura (30) Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City Royals Cannot Keep Both Danny Duffy And Yordano Ventura



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.

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Danny Duffy (41) Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Yordano Ventura (30) Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

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?

Why not?

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.


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Tags: Danny Duffy Kansas City Royals Yordano Ventura

12 Comments on Kansas City Royals Cannot Keep Both Danny Duffy And Yordano Ventura

  1. jimfetterolf says:

    Strongly disagree. Innings pitched will rise with command: Duffy knows he needs to lock in curve release point,Ventura knows he needs to quit shaking off the catcher and use his third pitch. Duffy will be the #2 starter out of the gate, Ventura likely starts in AAA to game service time and polish the third pitch, both will be in the rotation after the ASB when either Hochevar or Davis are traded or maybe even Guthrie.

    • Joel Wagler says:

      I’m not saying they won’t be in the rotation together. I am saying they shouldn’t be. You can’t ask your bullpen to pitch 4 innings twice every 5 days. I think KC should trade one for a bigger bat.

      • jimfetterolf says:

        I think the Royals see a little more than that, but what do they know? Maybe Profar in exchange? But where do you put him, or any other bigger bat? Nice thing about Ventura is he has options and will start in Omaha with Zimmer. Won’t have that flexibility with a bigger bat, so will also have to trade a position player to create a roster spot. But I would stay with the high ceiling guns, a position player can’t dominate a game like a pitcher can.

  2. wagsz says:

    Yeah, Duffy definitely looked to be able to go longer last few starts, but pulled early for safety. Plus can have Hoch and/or bring back Chen for planned long relief or spot starts. plus top 3 are pure inning eaters and relief arms are young and fresh.

  3. moretrouble says:

    Duffy and Ventura are a big part of KC’s future. They’d be foolish to let either of those kids go.

  4. Dave Lowe says:

    I haven’t read any of the other comments yet, but I am guessing this is not a popular article.

    These are horrible ideas. What if Ventura and Duffy both excel and grow into being good starters? It would be stupid to trade them. The Royals MUST excel at developing young players that are cost controlled.

    Package Ventura and Cain? Ridiculous, as you are giving away many years of cost controlled players for what, a bat that costs a lot of money and we have for one, maybe two years?

    There is no problem with them both being in the rotation. We have plenty of bullpen depth, and both Hochevar and Davis have experience starting and going long innings. So they are available if Duffy and Ventura can’t make it into the 7th.

    I’m thinking they start Ventura in AAA and move Hochevar into the #5 spot in the rotation. Ventura will be up if any falter or there are injuries.


    • Joel Wagler says:

      I have a hard time believing Ventura won’t have arm issues soon.

      • jimfetterolf says:

        Joel, that is possible, but everything I read on him says “smooth”. He’s not a violent, max effort guy like Tim Collins or even Chris Sale, probably most analogous to Pedro Martinez and Tim Lincecum in being a smallish burner.

        The Royals will be watching him closely and one reason for starting in Omaha is pitch count control so that he doesn’t overdo it in KC. After Hochevar, Paulino, Duffy, Lamb, and Montgomery, I feel certain the Royals are sensitive to protecting Ventura’s arm. We have the depth of high 90s arms to prevent overwork and make shut downs from a twinge much easier.

  5. TheBaltimoron says:

    > If the Royals don’t trade Yordano Ventura, they need him to become the next Pedro Martinez


  6. Christian camlin says:

    For starters your bias against smaller pitchers is frankly wrong and unscientific. Many pitchers in the games history have been Smaller and had no trouble at all with injuries or stamina.For Example Big Ed Ciccotte was just 5’9″ 175 lbs and won almost 80 games his last 3 years. And hall of Famers like Whitey Ford(5’11 178lbs)Burleigh Grimes (5’10″ 175) stan Coveleski (5’11″ 166) Warren Spahn(6’0 172)BobFeller (6’0″ 185) Juan Marichal(6’0″ 185) Nolan Ryan (6’2″ 170) Greg Maddux (6’0″ 170)& many more guys were small or skinny and still able to pitch with great strength speed & Stamina..The Assumption that these 2 kids are somehow too small to do the job is ridiculous.But they will need time to adjust to throwing more innings.Such is life.

    • Joel Wagler says:

      These are the exceptions and many of the examples are from a much different time in baseball pitching history. Pitching is different than it was 80 and 90 years ago. And for how many years did Nolan Ryan pitch at 170?

      • Christian camlin says:

        I had to limit my response and omit a great many smaller pitchers who have been successful.while there certainly were a lot more successful Small pitchers 100 years back they never disappeared from the game.I could have mentioned Tim Lincecum,Roy Oswalt, Johhny Cueto,David Cone,Cliff Lee,Don Sutton,Phil Niekro,Dave Stieb,Pedro Martinez,Tommy John,Jimmy Key etcetera.And though he is tall Chris Sale’s 6’6″ 180 Frame seems to work for him rather than against him.Your contention that pitching is different than it was 80-90 years ago is true.That Said Walter Johnson & Bob Feller both were throwing 100 MPH in their eras.Certainly the game has had some changes but I could argue that the level of talent in baseball in 1959 was equal to or better than what we see today.16 teams instead of 30 meant that only the very best were in the game.And in 1959 pitchers were expected to show greater endurance because managers usually had just 4 guys in the pen instead of todays normal 7 man pen.Also on Ryans playing weight it fluctuated at the end of his careerBut he wasat about 170 until about 1988.Coincidentally when his decline began.When he was setting records in the early & Mid 70′s he weighed 170 soaking wet.Point is Mechanics matter more than size

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