From the time he arrived we have heard nothing but praise in regards to James Shields, the leadership, the pitching ability, the attitude, the change up we have all heard the praise of Shields from the front office and ¬†many of the players in the Royals organization. ¬†One player who has praised him more than most was Danny Duffy who seemed to latch onto Shields the second he met him in the locker room and identify with him as a fellow Californian. ¬†While Shields was transforming the Royals locker room, teaching the team how to win and leading the charge on the mound Duffy was raving about the phenomenal Shields change up on Twitter while he rehabbed his arm.
When Duffy got to the mound he looked like a slightly different pitcher. ¬†Yes he continued to struggle to command and control the strike zone but he also leaned on a pitch more heavily than he had in the past. ¬†Did Duffy learn something from watching Shields? ¬†Did he learn that he could control and dominate hitters without rearing back and trying to blow it by them? ¬†It was just five starts but Danny used his change up more than he had ever before. ¬†In those five starts Danny ¬†threw the change up 82 times which worked out to roughly 17.7% of his pitches thrown. ¬†Prior to last year Danny had thrown it just 13% of the time.
You’ll see Duffy’s entire arsenal in this highlight last season versus the Twins
With more usage came more success for the lefty as hitters hit below .200 against his change and right-handed hitters hit less than .200 against him with a sub .600 OPS. ¬†Righties had always pummeled Duffy prior to that brief stint and even mixing those stats in gives Duffy a .275 Batting average against and a .835 OPS versus his off=handed foes.
As I’ve repeatedly said this is an extremely small sample, just five starts, but maybe Duffy learned something from watching a pitcher whose best pitch is his change up and he’s not scared to use it nearly 30% of the time. ¬†The front office and us fans have seen just 31 major league starts from Duffy, hardly a sample that justifies any conclusions especially if you consider they can’t make up their minds after seeing 88 from Wade Davis and 128 from Luke Hochevar.
Follow me on Twitter @ClintScoles
Data via Brooks Baseball
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