The Tyler Duffey Effect

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I hate being wrong about baseball. It’s probably because it happens so often. Like a lot of sports fans, I equate being knowledgeable with being smart. The truth is, I’m a little bit of one and not much of the other. Never have I been more wrong, or so happy to be so, since Tyler Duffey got the call from the Twins.

Duffey could not have had a more unreasonable opening assignment at the big league level, the red hot Blue Jays at the Rodgers Center. He gave up 6 ER in 2 innings. Immediately I was fumbling for my black books or Minnesota Twins organizational scapegoats, Terry Ryan was first. ‘I can’t believe it’s not Berrios’, ‘Why not give Taylor Rodgers a chance’, I muttered to myself stewing. Since August 15th Duffey has been on the type of run that has made me double down on humble pie and hop on the most unexpected Twins pitching bandwagon since Andrew Albers.

In his 7 starts since his shellacking at the Rodgers center, Duffey has posted 5 quality starts, pitched 43.2 innings giving up just 10 ER, lowering his ERA to 3.15, striking out 8.7/9, with a FIP of 3.25, WAR of 1.3 (would be on pace for 5.2 over a full season), and BaBIP of .310. All of Duffey’s statistics and peripherals point to one undeniable and perhaps surprising inference: Duffey has been good, not lucky.

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The Twins pitching has come down to earth in the second half of the season, falling from 8th best in the AL to 12th post All-Star break. Honing in on the starting pitching efforts is even more telling. The Twins have had the 8th best rotation in the AL since the break. In short, Duffey has been the shot in the arm for the rotation that Miguel Sano has been for the lineup.

Questions remain about how the Twins will utilize Duffey down the stretch, with good pitching performances essential in a closing run that sees them with 10 more games against the hard chasing Indians. Assuming the Twins do make the post-season, the team is additionally in a predicament with the other hot arm in the rotation, Ervin Santana, ruled out of post-season play after his suspension. The Twins approach to Duffey moving forwards seems to be to pitch him tentatively, with as much extra rest as they can afford him, unlike now uber-prospect Jose Berrios. With Duffey providing a shot to the arm, Jose Berrios coming off a terrific season, and Santana rounding back into form, the Twins have reason to be optimistic about the core of their future rotation moving into 2016, mostly on the back of home drafted and grown arms.

So the next time the Twins make a call to use and stick with a starting pitcher I disagree with, maybe I’ll sit back, relax, and have a little more faith…Until they have to pitch at the Rodgers Center at least.

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