Let’s talk Danny Duffy, forearm flexor strains and Tommy John surgery.
Thanks for your understanding of my stepping away a little the past two weeks to focus on the end of my son’s baseball career. He pitched out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the semifinals of the league tournament by getting a strikeout looking on his curve. He then got the next batter to hit into a double play, ending the inning and eventually moving the team on to the championship game, which they won 9-8 in a walk-off after trailing 8-0.
It was a fun two weeks and something I will never forget. It’s been a long ride in youth baseball, but now it’s over. Now I get back to having more time than ever to doing what I love: talking sports. Specifically Kansas City sports. The website is continuing to evolve. The podcasts are back on a regular schedule. The videos will be increasing. I love sports. I love Kansas City sports. And I am thankful for everyone who takes the time to read, listen, and watch.
Now, I have been waiting two weeks to talk sports, so I have a lot to say. I won’t throw it all at you today. But let’s get going.
7:10pm – MLB – Milwaukee Brewers at Kansas City Royals (BSKC)
DANNY DUFFY TO THE INJURED LIST
Danny Duffy was placed on the 10-day injured list because of a left forearm flexor strain Monday retroactive to May 14. This is a problem for the Royals.
You might have read that Duffy was placed on the 10-day injured list and thought, that doesn’t sound so bad. He’s out a week and a half and then right back into the rotation, right? Um… no.
Any time a pitcher has a forearm strain on their throwing arm, it’s awful news. Let’s put this in perspective. 20% of major league pitchers who injure their forearm muscles have Tommy John surgery within one year. I’m at the point where when I hear that a pitcher has a forearm strain, I assume it’s just a matter of time until we hear that he will have the surgery.
Now, not every pitcher with a forearm strain will undergo Tommy John surgery. But even those who avoid surgery are looking at a lengthy recovery in most cases. In fact, the average number of days a player is on the injured list because of a forearm strain is 117.
There is generally a significant decline in performance in the year leading up to the injury. That’s where Duffy is a little different. Duffy wasn’t real good last season, but it wasn’t anything abnormally bad. And he has been terrific early this season. So maybe, they are catching it early? We can hope for that, but it still hurts the club. I’ll explain in a minute.
The forearm muscles protect the UCL. The UCL is the ligament that is repaired in Tommy John surgery. So when there is a forearm strain, there is more stress on the UCL and more of a chance for serious injury. Often, pitchers who develop a forearm strain have started learning a new pitch or a new grip. But that’s not always the case. It can also come from overuse or just bad luck.
Let’s talk briefly about overuse. The first thought many will jump to is pitch count. That’s where the magic 100-pitch limit came into play. Too many pitches in a game are bound to lead to injury. It sounds good. It’s kind of makes sense if you don’t think too much about it. But I don’t see it this way.
Injuries don’t necessarily happen because a pitcher throws over 100 pitches in a game. I would argue more that it comes from the number of pitches thrown in an inning. Pitchers rest between innings and regain their strength. But a pitcher cannot rest in the middle of an inning. It varies from one pitcher to the next, but in general, 30 pitches in an inning seems to be a lot to most pitchers. When you start hitting that number of pitches in an inning, I would be concerned. But 10-15 pitches an inning should be no problem. So, 135 pitches in a game with innings averaging 15 pitches, and no long, stressful innings, should not be a danger to a major league pitcher. Ultimately, everybody is unique. You have to learn your pitchers.
But let’s get back to Duffy. The best-case scenario for Danny Duffy right now is to heal the forearm muscles fully and closely watch his UCL as he starts throwing again should he be fortunate enough to avoid surgery. For the Royals, I expect this to mean, at best, they get a steal of a deal on a new Duffy contract since he is set to become a free agent this offseason.
As you know, I would not re-sign Duffy. In fact, I have advocated for trading him as soon as he put together any kind of hot streak. He has done that early in the season, but this injury throws any hopes of trading him right out the window.
I now expect Duffy to be out for the season. I expect him to need Tommy John surgery. The Royals often sign guys like this after other organizations have given up on them. I could see them offer Duffy a two-year contract after this season. He recovers in year one. He pitches in year two and is traded around the trade deadline if he performs well enough. I don’t know if things will go this way with Duffy, but that’s the best-case scenario that I can see right now for the Royals.
So with Duffy out, Kris Bubic will start tonight’s game against Milwaukee. Brad Keller gets the start on Wednesday. Who will come up to be the fifth starter? It could be Jackson Kowar. He is off to a fine start in the minor leagues this season. Will the Royals want to start his clock after seeing how much Daniel Lynch struggled? I don’t think they would let Lynch’s struggles affect how they handle Kowar. I certainly hope they would not.
So bad news for the Royals and Danny Duffy. Duffy’s career has not gone the way he nor the Royals thought it would go. As much as I have wanted the Royals to move on from Duffy in recent seasons, nobody wanted things to end like this.
LETS TALK REPLAY IN BASEBALL
The Royals lost Sunday on a walk-off wild pitch. Cam Gallagher blocked a curveball in the dirt, but it got a little too far away from him, allowing Jose Abreu to score the winning run.
Mike Matheny lost his mind after the game, insisting that there are problems with replay in Major League Baseball and that the Royals clearly tagged out Abreu before he touched the plate. Matheny really went after the umpires, saying that they seem to be just backing each other up instead of making the right call upon review. He insists that something must be done about replay.
We have two different issues here. First, did the Royals get cheated out of a game-saving out on Sunday? Second, is there a major problem with replay in MLB?
Let’s tackle the first issue, well, first. Unless Mike Matheny had definitive views of the play at the plate on Sunday that we did not get on television, the Royals were not cheated out of anything. I never saw Cam Gallagher tag Jose Abreu. Sure, Royals fans want to say they saw it, and maybe they did, but I sure didn’t see anything the clearly showed an out.
And I know it was the last play of the game, but the Royals celebrate their 1985 World Series championship like it was all them who won it. Don’t forget that Don Denkinger missed a crucial call at first base in Game 6 that would have easily been overturned today with replay, even if you think the system is broken. And that one call prevented the St. Louis Cardinals from winning the series and opened the door to a blowout Royals win in Game 7.
So now, is the replay system in baseball broken? I don’t think it’s as bad as what people are saying. Does it need improvement? Absolutely. For instance, it should be handled like college football, where coaches don’t need a challenge. Have an umpire constantly reviewing plays and contact the crew chief to pause the game if more time is needed for a review. If the idea is to get the calls right, then every call should have the chance to be corrected.
And if baseball wants to use instant replay, they need to put up cameras all around the stadium to view the play from almost any angle. You see the technology in the Super Bowl where they like to show a replay where they start from one camera and then pause the picture, move around the play to another angle and resume it. There are many different angles. Let’s require that in every ballpark.
But what will improve baseball even more than an improved replay system is the electronic strike zone. Until that is in place, the rest is just moving deck chairs.
Notes: Kansas received a commitment from Arizona State point guard Remy Martin. The Jayhawks desperately needed a true point guard last season… According to some reports, public opposition in Japan to hosting the 2021 Olympics has grown to more than 80%. But the IOC wants the games to be played and likely won’t cancel them. The games are set to begin on July 23… NASCAR teams might change the location of the numbers on the side of their cars for next season. Teams could earn additional revenue by putting a sponsor logo on the dots and moving the numbers closer to the back of the cars. This allows for larger logos and better placement.
What works for Albert Pujols in Los Angeles that didn’t in Anaheim? (Fabian Ardaya and Molly Knight)
Thanks for reading…