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Article: Duffey Presents Pleasant Dilemma For Twins


Perkins struggled as a starter & then became a dominant closer. Duffey struggled as a starter and now is pitching well so far out of the bullpen. I'd like to see him take over as closer for the Twins at some point this season. If he's the best pitcher in the Twins' bullpen, I think he might be, then he should be used in the highest leverage situations. He was a great closer in college so he should be used to the pressure situations from those days.

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Ignoring the numbers, and just watching him pitch in different roles, it looks clear to me that he belongs in the bullpen.  Keep him there for now if he is finding success.  We have too many other good starting options coming up in AA and AAA.

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Looks like I'm in the minority, but I'm of the mind that you keep a player in the spot where he could provide the most value until you're convinced he will be unusable in that role. Maybe Duffey as a starter was a lost cause, but if we're gonna give Kyle Gibson 101 starts, I would've been fine giving Duffey more than 36.

 

Yes, he was bad last year, but maybe with the new evaluation team and Castro/Gimenez able to help we would have seen something extra from Tyler. That's a great tidbit about his change in positioning on he rubber, you never know how little stuff like that can make big differences.

 

I would have put him in the No. 5 spot, but if it turns out he's a great reliever I'm not gonna get too worked up about it.

 

But, you're never going to convince me a pitcher can provide more value throwing 70 innings instead of 200. Yes, high-leverage innings are the most important, but if your starters get blown out it's pretty tough to get use out of a great pen.

 

The first inning is the highest-leverage inning of the entire game in my eyes.

 

Well, we know with certainty that last sentence isn't actually true.

 

Now, I agree, I would have sent him to AAA to be a starter. But, they didn't do that. IMO, jerking him around, back and forth, is a bad idea for him. Can they move him back to starter, if his change improves with time/work? Sure. But at some point, they need to make a decision.

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Yeah, this does seem premature.  Through 4 games last year, Duffey was looking pretty good too -- 8.5 K/9, 1.5 BB/9, 0.7 HR/9, 1.85 ERA, 2.96 RA9.  And that was 4 starts, three times the innings he's logged so far this season, and they weren't all against slouch opponents either -- Cleveland, Detroit, and Washington (plus the White Sox, which might be a slouch opponent :) ).

 

I mean, I hope he can keep it up too, but I don't know how helpful it is to invoke Andrew Miller at this point.

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I think keeping him in the pen is the best option. sure, maybe they give him another go at being a starter...but I think this back and forth back and forth can wear on a guy. See May, Trevor for an example. Duffy was an outstanding college reliever and his 1-2 pitch combo is much more contusive to being a reliever. Twins seem to have found something that works, don't mess it up now!

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Ervin Santana had a terrible year as a starter early in his career too -- 5.74 ERA / 5.13 FIP in 2007.  The Angels were wise to let him continue starting.  Even roughly league average run prevention as a full-time starter can be pretty valuable.

 

(For that matter, Ervin had two later poor years too.)

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Not sure if it is related to the bullpen switch or not but Duffey's biggest improvement is being able to throw his fastball for a strike. He's thrown 72% of his fastballs in zone (compared to 51% last year).

 

He has also gotten strike one more frequently (68% vs 62% in 2016) which sets up other pieces of his arsenal nicely. 

 

This is the thing. He has two pitches and one of them is significantly better than the other. His issue, is the better pitch is NOT his fastball. It didn't take long for professional hitters to figure out that you can simply not swing at his curveball and sit fastball.

 

This is exactly why his FB zone % was so off last year compared to the year before. They weren't swinging at his curveball, and crushing his fastballs in the zone. Thus he had to try and nibble with it. It had the expected adverse effect.

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I don't understand the desire to write him off as a starter this fast.  He was a good starter in 2015.  Very good.  For a team that needs upside guys there, you don't write off a young option just because he has been good in the pen. 

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I think Duffey can be a #3 starter, which is more valuable than pitching out of the bullpen in any role. For his career as a MLB starter he's put up a xFIP of 3.82 and a SIERA of 3.98. The only reason he struggled last year was his redonkulous HR/FB% of 19.5%. For even the most homer prone starter that is unsustainably high.

 

Comparing his (very SSS) underlying peripheral stats as a reliever to his starting career there is no difference in K%, a slight decrease in his already solid BB%, but career high hard hit% and career low soft hit%. Literally, the only reason he looks so much better in the bullpen than in the rotation is going from a 19.5% HR/FB last year to 0% this year. 

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Its a tough call. The Twins could desperately use another effective starter and if Duffey has the potential to fill that role then you want to make sure he is given every opportunity to prove he can't. If I'm choosing between Berrios and Duffey to replace Gibson I'm going with Berrios though.

 

I agree with the Trevor May comparisons. I doubt the Twins would force Duffey to continue starting in the same way they've kept May relegated to the bullpen but if he does have a good thing going I'm ok with him staying in the pen when there are better options to fill the vacant starter role.  

 

I think the real dilemma is if/when Hughes gets bumped. At that point it should be Duffey stepping into the rotation. 

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You cant only build your pen out of failed starters and retreads. You have to throw some assets directly at the pen from your system and actively try to build it up just as you do your starting rotation.  

 

As for his pitch mix, to me it profiles more as a reliever. Mariano Rivera became a legend basically using slight variations of 1 pitch. Duffey's hook is nasty when served in small quantities.

 

Keep him in the pen.

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I'd lean toward putting him back into a starting role as soon as possible. It's far too early to be giving up on him as a starter. His performance last year was ... odd. A 1000+ OPS against right-handed hitters? 

 

If, by next year, it looks like starting pitching isn't working out, then bullpen. This year, he still has options, so the Twins can let him get back up to speed in AAA. You move a guy to the bullpen when you must, either for his sake or for the organization's, and not before. 

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To me Duffey just doesn't have the stuff to go through a lineup multiple times. I know he was good his rookie year, but that's his first time through the league with nobody knowing anything about him. I think people got the scouting report on him last year, and as someone said earlier, they knew to sit on fastballs in the zone and let it fly.

 

You don't need big velocity to be succesful, but if you don't have it you better have big time command. Duffey just doesn't seem to have that type of command on his fastball. He can get away with low velocity and not great command once through the order and maybe even twice. But the longer you leave him out there in an outing the higher the chance that he leaves 89 down the middle and it goes 450. Someone mentioned his HR/FB% numbers and that it was unsustainably high last year. It may be unsustainable to stay at 19.5%, but I'd expect to see him at the top of the league in that percentage every year as a starter. When big league hitters can eliminate all but one of your pitches they get really, really good. And when that 1 pitch is an 88-92 straight fastball that you don't command very well they get even better. I know Mariano only had 1 pitch, but he had pin point command with it on both sides of the plate and up and down. And it was a filthy pitch.

 

All that being said I just think his repetoire lends itself to having more success in the pen than in the rotation. I'm of the belief that if you can get 3 outs you should be able to go through the lineup once and get 7 or 8 outs. I'd like to see Duffey (and almost every reliever) used in that way. Not just in games the starter didn't get through 7 in, but whenever he's needed. Go out there and go through the lineup once and hit the showers. Andrew Miller in the playoffs style. I think you could have 2 or 3 guys that do that for a full season and throw 100-110 innings and really make up some ground for a less than stellar rotation.

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As a general rule, I think you should exhaust your options to leave a guy in the rotation before you move him to the pen.  I'm not sure we've exhausted our options yet with Duffey.  

I would normally agree but I believe the many people that his pitches don't project well as a starter. If this is true (certainly debatable) then just leave him in the bullpen. I do like the idea of having higher leverage multiple inning pitchers available though instead of this one (inning) and done concept. No reason that Duffey couldn't be a 7th/8th (and even 9th) inning guy but it would challenge bullpen usage as we know it.

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I would normally agree but I believe the many people that his pitches don't project well as a starter. If this is true (certainly debatable) then just leave him in the bullpen. I do like the idea of having higher leverage multiple inning pitchers available though instead of this one (inning) and done concept. No reason that Duffey couldn't be a 7th/8th (and even 9th) inning guy but it would challenge bullpen usage as we know it.

 

That's a fair point, I guess it comes down to how effective that changeup can be.  

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I would normally agree but I believe the many people that his pitches don't project well as a starter. If this is true (certainly debatable) then just leave him in the bullpen. I do like the idea of having higher leverage multiple inning pitchers available though instead of this one (inning) and done concept. No reason that Duffey couldn't be a 7th/8th (and even 9th) inning guy but it would challenge bullpen usage as we know it.

 

The problem I see is that the two pitch thing gets a bit overblown.  He throws two different curve balls if I remember right... now I get it, but mixing pitches and locating that FB is a big deal. A change up that can keep hitters off balance would be nice, but let's not forget just how good he was in 2015. 

 

If the two pitch thing is a real problem that cannot be overcome, he would have failed miserably in 2015.  He didn't. 

 

I'm not saying that the pen isn't his final destination, but I think you give him some rope to see what he can do.  That's just me.

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The problem I see is that the two pitch thing gets a bit overblown.  He throws two different curve balls if I remember right... now I get it, but mixing pitches and locating that FB is a big deal. A change up that can keep hitters off balance would be nice, but let's not forget just how good he was in 2015. 

 

If the two pitch thing is a real problem that cannot be overcome, he would have failed miserably in 2015.  He didn't. 

 

I'm not saying that the pen isn't his final destination, but I think you give him some rope to see what he can do.  That's just me.

 

In 2015 he was pitching after the roster expansion, no? So against a mix of AAA and major league players?

One would expect a 2-pitch guy to be decent ~2 times through the batting order.  If I recall correctly, this was the case last year. With a small repertoire, one has to put more strength into each pitch. One isn't going to last as long through the game.

I think the smartest move is when you find a reliever who can swoop in with his superman cape and shut down the opposition, you keep him in the pen.  Esp. on a team with such a shaky bullpen.

Edited by Doomtints
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In 2015 he was pitching after the roster expansion, no? So against a mix of AAA and major league players?

One would expect a 2-pitch guy to be decent ~2 times through the batting order.  If I recall correctly, this was the case last year. With a small repertoire, one has to put more strength into each pitch. One isn't going to last as long through the game.

Duffey had four starts pre-expansion in 2015. His performance was somewhere between holding his own and a little bit bad.

 

But that doesn't really matter to me (pre- or post-expansion). What matters to me is putting too much weight in a pitcher entering MLB and having a dozen or so good starts. Hitters haven't seen that pitcher. Film hasn't been collected on the guy. No notebooks are collated with his pitching tendencies. He's the baseball version of the technology industry's "security through obscurity" rule.

 

Maybe that guy is succeeding because he's good. Maybe that guy is succeeding because no one is ready for him. Either way, I'm not going to draw a conclusion when the reason for his success is muddy.

 

To anyone who wants to point to Duffey's 2015 success as proof of anything, I will simply reply "Scott Diamond".

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I've thought about this a lot the last couple days, waffling back and forth. Lots of good arguments made on this thread, both ways. I'm sticking to my earlier post.

 

If I ran the Twins*, I'd keep him in the bullpen. I'd use him in the way that fireman used to be used to be used. I'd use him in the 6-8th innings, 1-2 innings at a time, in games where it was a close score. I'd want to get 100ish innings out of him. Getting 2/3 as many innings as most starters, but mostly in high leverage situations, would make him about as valuable as a good starter.

 

Actually, I've been arguing teams should do this more and more, where pitchers pitch 2-3 innings max, and you plan to use 3-5 pitchers every game. Most teams don't have 4 good starters, let alone 8. They would greatly benefit by having guys that can pitch 2-3 innings at a time to go with their 3 good starters. But, that's serious outside the box thinking...

 

*forgot to add this! It's good for everyone I don't. IIRTT.

Edited by Mike Sixel
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I've thought about this a lot the last couple days, waffling back and forth. Lots of good arguments made on this thread, both ways. I'm sticking to my earlier post.

 

If I ran the Twins*, I'd keep him in the bullpen. I'd use him in the way that fireman used to be used to be used. I'd use him in the 6-8th innings, 1-2 innings at a time, in games where it was a close score. I'd want to get 100ish innings out of him. Getting 2/3 as many innings as most starters, but mostly in high leverage situations, would make him about as valuable as a good starter.

 

Concur. I'm also of the belief that 90-100 high leverage innings is just as valuable as 160-180 innings as a #5 pitcher. Considering the team doesn't have a ton of talent in the rotation, I'd like to keep the bullpen strong, and utilize the Royals bullpen strategy this season.... Where we hope for 5-6 decent innings from the #4/#5 starter, and let the bullpen take over from there.  

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To anyone who wants to point to Duffey's 2015 success as proof of anything, I will simply reply "Scott Diamond".

 

2015, in my opinion, is simply proof that we shouldn't write him off as a starter... just yet.  2016 had injury issues, not to mention he lost his ability to locate his FB.  That would have been a problem for him in the pen too.  So far this year, his FB issues seem to be resolved.

 

As I've said before, I'm not against it if his final destination is the pen, but I think it would be very unwise to close the book on him starting at this point.  It's not like we have a rotation of Cy Young candidates forcing him to the pen.

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2015, in my opinion, is simply proof that we shouldn't write him off as a starter... just yet.  2016 had injury issues, not to mention he lost his ability to locate his FB.  That would have been a problem for him in the pen too.  So far this year, his FB issues seem to be resolved.

 

As I've said before, I'm not against it if his final destination is the pen, but I think it would be very unwise to close the book on him starting at this point.  It's not like we have a rotation of Cy Young candidates forcing him to the pen.

And that's fair. I have no problems with people saying Duffey should get another shot at starting, as the situation is pretty murky.

 

But 2015 didn't prove anything to us one way or the other. Nor did 2016, for that matter.

 

Personally, I'd keep him in the pen right now because this team can't even seem to get Jose Berrios in their rotation. I'm not willing to punt on Berrios in favor of Duffey, who *should* be a solid bullpen arm given his profile.

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2015, in my opinion, is simply proof that we shouldn't write him off as a starter... 

 

But he is pretty darn good as a reliever so far, so why are you writing him off as a reliever?

 

There's a false premise here that starters > relievers. Good relievers are a huge asset.

Edited by Doomtints
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