Game 73, Royals at Mariners
Roenis Elias vs. Danny Duffy, 7:10pm
As you’ll see in the line-up below, the M’s have made a change to their roster, bringing back old favorite Franklin Gutierrez and sending James Jones back to Tacoma. Guti’s battled ankylosing spondylitis, a condition associated with inflammation in spinal joints that cause pain and stiffness. In addition, the hamstring issues that plagued him in 2010-2012 are chronic now, and he missed a few weeks earlier this year with a strain. Gutierrez is no longer a center-fielder, and doesn’t have the speed he once did. But as we just saw, there’s no value in having a legitimate CF behind Austin Jackson if he’s not going to hit. This move improves the M’s bench, and hopefully not having to play every day will maximize Guti’s effectiveness. Franklin’s decline was painful to watch, and must have been horrifying to Gutierrez himself. The M’s had built around him, then had to scramble to fill the void when he went down, and I think we all thought we’d never see him again. I’m stunned he’s here, but then, I’ve been stunned that he’s performed so well – and so often – in Tacoma. Welcome back, Guti. If Danny Duffy gets within a foot of Guti with an inside pitch, Roenis Elias has my permission to plunk a Royal per inning in retaliation.
Danny Duffy is another ex-teammate of Mike Montgomery’s in the Royals MiLB system. Duffy always threw harder, and seemed like more of a high-risk, high-reward arm compared to Montgomery, and he’s delivered a bit of everything in his tenure. He’s averaged 95mph on his fastball, elite velocity for a lefty, and with a slider and curve as well, he’s been extremely tough on lefties. But the control issues that followed him in the minors are still something he’s dealing with, and that’s hurt his effectiveness and driven up his pitch counts. Perhaps worse than an elevated walk rate is Duffy’s extensive injury history. He suffered a strained elbow ligament in 2010, then tore it in 2012, necessitating TJ surgery. Then, he had rotator cuff issues and a strained rib-cage, which held him out of the Royals’ playoff roster last year. In late May of this year, the Royals sat him for a while with more shoulder discomfort.
When he’s on, he uses his rising four-seamer to get fly-outs and pop-ups, and uses his breaking balls and a change-up to get strikeouts. Somewhat like Yordano Ventura, his teammate, Duffy gets surprisingly few strikeouts given the explosive nature of his stuff. His K rate was slightly above average before his TJ surgery, but he’s been below average for 2014 and 2015 – which is especially troublesome considering he’s run a higher-than-average walk rate. That TOO is somewhat surprising, because, since the start of 2014, he’s been pounding the zone. The percentage of his pitches in the zone has been at least 53% in both years, while the league average is just 48+%. He’s walking people because he’s not missing bats – his swinging strike rate has plunged, and his o-swing% (swings on pitches outside of the zone) is just 22%, the lowest of his career, though that’s something he’s never been good at. Duffy has great stuff that, for whatever reason, batters find easy to identify and make contact with.
1: Jackson, CF
2: GUTI!!!, LF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Trumbo, RF
7: Morrison, 1B
8: Zunino, C
9: Miller, SS
The Rainiers lost to the Reno Aces 4-3 yesterday, as a 4-run 6th spoiled Justin Germano’s strong start. Carlos Rivero homered and Jesus Montero had 2 hits for the R’s; Guti DH’d yesterday, but went 0-3. Today, Tacoma hosts Reno as Forrest Snow faces off against rehabbing righty Archie Bradley. Bradley was struck in the head by a line drive earlier this year, but is on the D-Backs DL now with shoulder tendinitis. Maaan, this game preview is soaked in blood and pain.
Everett beat Spokane yesterday 4-3, running their record to 5-1 (?!). After getting blanked by Indians starter Peter Fairbanks, Everett scored 2 in the 7th, and 2 in the 9th to win. Luiz Gohara made his second consecutive strong start, going 6 IP with 1 run allowed and 8 Ks. Taylor Bird starts today for the AquaSox as they continue the series in Spokane.