The Kansas City Royals have put the final touches on their starting rotation. Throughout the spring, a competition was formed between Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura for the final spot in the rotation. On Monday, that competition officially came to a close.
Manager Ned Yost announced on Monday to a group of reporters, including Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com, that there was no reason to hold back the announcement of the decision for the fifth starter. With Duffy struggling this spring and Ventura being downright dominant, the time had come to make the decision official.
Ventura had thrown six shutout innings, striking out six Texas Rangers, on Monday night to solidify the decision. That performance lowered Ventura's spring ERA to 1.76 while elevating his strikeout total to 15 in just over 15 innings pitched. The hard-throwing youngster did everything to prove that he was ready for this opportunity.
Competitions have winners and losers, however, and Duffy now finds himself on the outside looking in. Early indications of the competition were that the loser would likely find himself in the starting rotation at Triple-A Omaha. Due to the injury sustained by Luke Hochevar, now Duffy will be given the opportunity to claim the last bullpen spot.
The subject at hand is now which role better benefits Duffy in the long term? He may be capable of claiming the final bullpen role but, despite his oddly weak spring performance, he has traditionally been a more than capable starter.
Ultimately, Duffy could see time as a starter this year and likely stands as the first player to receive a start should any of the current staff falter or become injured. While sending him to Omaha may not be the best choice for his confidence, it may be the best option the team has for utilizing him efficiently later. Should someone find themselves hurt, it may be harder to slide Duffy out of the bullpen and into the rotation than it would to simply call him up from the minors.
Ventura pitched well enough to prove that he was ready. He is likely the right man for the job. Duffy carries the confidence of past success. He has proven he can win at this level.
Both men will likely be in the rotation before the end of the season. Until then, the question remains, what should be done with Duffy?