Danny Duffy retrieved the baseball and brought it with him to the Kansas City clubhouse on Sunday afternoon. After his first relief appearance in 2015, part of his audition for the playoff roster, he wanted an heirloom to commemorate the first save of his big-league career.
Duffy handled the final four innings of a 10-3 victory over the Tigers, which met the requirements for a save. He struck out six and impressed manager Ned Yost with his efficiency and confidence.
“That’s as good as I’ve seen Danny throw in a long time,” Yost said. “He was banging strikes with great stuff. … Just a great job. It’s encouraging to see Danny throwing like that. Because that’s another power arm we can add to our bullpen.”
The Royals removed Duffy from the starting rotation earlier this week. The team had grown tired of his abbreviated outings, and decided he would not be a candidate for a start in October. They shifted him to a relief role.
During the next two weeks, Duffy has a chance to pitch his way onto the 25-man postseason roster. His first outing exceeded Yost’s expectations.
Duffy has often said how much he enjoys pitching out of the bullpen. He asked the club if it was an option last spring, when it became clear he would not make the opening-day roster. He spent a month as a reliever before excelling as a starter, with a 2.55 ERA in 25 starts.
Duffy was less effective in 2015. He entered Sunday with a 4.35 ERA in 24 starts. He felt rejuvenated by his new assignment.
“I always feel good out of the ‘pen,” Duffy said. “Every time I’ve pitched out of the ‘pen, I feel like I can let it go. I throw everything with more conviction, it seems like. It’s like a subconscious thing. You go out there and empty the tank. And it’s a lot of fun.”