The Royals' Danny Duffy Pitched One of the Best Games of the Year on Monday
After all the trade deadline dust settled on Monday, the only thing left to do was play some baseball games.
Kansas City Royals starter Danny Duffy must have been excited to stay where he was, because he celebrated Trade Deadline Day by pitching the third-best game of the year, hurling eight innings of shutout ball while striking out 16 and allowing just one hit in the Royals' 3-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
It was a thing of beauty.
Duffy took a no-hitter into the 8th inning, and his 16 strikeouts were a Royals team record, breaking the mark of 15 set by Zack Greinke in 2009. And as you can see from the video above, Tampa hitters were flailing at his stuff all night long.
ESPN Stats & Info takes a look at Danny Duffy's franchise record-breaking performance: https://t.co/SmH9cDk7aP pic.twitter.com/PzzhVuR2Qt
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 2, 2016
Duffy forced 35 swings and misses against the Rays, tied with Clayton Kershaw for the most in a single game in the last 15 years. His performance also earned him a Game Score of 95, which was tied for the third-best in baseball this season.
The big difference between Duffy's performance and the others above is that he only went eight innings, while Madison Bumgarner, Jaime Garcia, Vincent Velasquez and Kershaw all pitched complete games.
It was also the highest nine-inning Game Score in Royals history, and again, Duffy only went eight innings.
Duffy started off the season in the bullpen and didn't get moved to the rotation full-time until mid-May. But since becoming a starter, he's been lights-out. In 31 games (15 starts), he is 7-1 with a 2.98 ERA and 3.20 FIP. His strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) are way up this season (10.44), far higher than his career average (7.79).
A big reason for the increased whiffs is a jump in velocity, with his fastball averaging 95.2 miles per hour (MPH), up from 93.8 MPH last year and 93.2 MPH the year before. He's also throwing his changeup a lot more. He's tossing it 16.0% of the time, which up from 10.7% and 9.4%, respectively, the previous two seasons. Duffy's slider has also been particularly sharp this season.
And since moving to the rotation, Duffy has begun throwing a two-seam fastball to accompany his four-seamer. According to Fangraphs, Duffy had never thrown the two-seamer more than 9.8% of the time in any season. This year, he's throwing it 21.3% of the time, and he is throwing the four-seamer 41.3% of the time, down from the 62%-to-65% range of previous seasons.
While Kansas City has struggled to replicate their success of the last two campaigns, they at least have learned that Duffy is not only capable of being a regular member of the rotation, but that he can thrive in that role.
As the Tampa Bay Rays found out on Monday night.