Friday, October 2, 2015

Duffey Puts A Bow On An Impressive Debut

2015 was supposed to be and has been the year of the prospect for the Minnesota Twins. Eddie Rosario, Alex Meyer, Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, and Max Kepler have all made their big league debuts. In one of the most impressive farm systems in all of baseball, the Twins had plenty of big names to bring to Target Field. It has been Tyler Duffey however, that has been arguably the most impressive of them all.

With young pitching talents like Trevor May and Alex Meyer being highly touted, and Jose Berrios being highly anticipated, it's been Duffey who has somewhat flown under the radar. The Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts opening day starter in 2015 (over Berrios), made quick work of the minor leagues this season. Debuting with the Twins on August 5, his time had quickly come.

After a rocky first outing against baseball's best offense in the Toronto Blue Jays, Duffey has been nothing short of spectacular since. Across his final nine starts, Duffey owned a 5-0 record with the Twins winnings eight of those nine games. Duffey's ERA was a glowing 2.25 and he held opposing hitters to a .244/.304/.349 slash line. His 8.4 K/9 was best among Twins starters, and he struck out more than seven batters five times in nine outings.

Pushing his innings further than any other point in his career, Duffey was reliable for Molitor's squad as well. He went more than six innings in all but two of his final nine starts, and he pitched into the seventh twice. The final three trips to the mound saw Duffey throw 101, 112, and 102 pitches respectively.

In his first time at the big league level, it's looked every bit like Duffey can hold his own. His 3.24 FIP suggests his 3.10 ERA is substantiated. He's given up hard hit contact just 24.9% of the time while inducing ground balls 49.7% of the time. Duffey has surrendered line drives just 19.4% of the time, and has given up only four home runs across 59 innings.

Then there's the effectiveness of his curveball. Duffey has twirled his spinner 39.1% of the time this season, and while that number is high, it's because it's been really good. Across all of his pitches, Duffey has induced swings at pitches outside of the strike zone 34.2% of the time, and has benefited from swinging strikes 9.8% of the time.

As a whole, it's pretty hard to quantify Tyler Duffey's 2015 season as anything but a smashing success. While he doesn't get the praise that some other top pitching prospects do, he's earned the recognition all on his own in his first experience at the big league level. I'm not positive Duffey starts in the rotation for the 2016 Twins, but he's made a very compelling argument for himself.

After seeing Duffey's success this season, Jose Berrios has to be salivating at his upcoming opportunity in the year ahead. The Twins pairing the two together in the rotation for years to come would be an ideal scenario, and so far, the plan is being executed flawlessly.

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