Danny Duffy nears possible return; Royals’ Ned Yost mulls six-man rotation

Royals pitcher Danny Duffy will throw a two-inning, simulated game on Monday at Kauffman Stadium.
Royals pitcher Danny Duffy will throw a two-inning, simulated game on Monday at Kauffman Stadium.

Ian Kennedy’s right shoulder is ailing. Danny Duffy remains on the disabled list. The Royals’ starting rotation is a shell of its former self, depleted and devastated by injury.

The reality has left Royals manager Ned Yost looking for ways to piece together the unit for the rest of the season. On Saturday afternoon, he hinted that he may look to employ a six-man rotation after the club reaches its next day off on Sept. 18 in Toronto.

In that scenario, Duffy would return to the rotation, perhaps as early as next weekend, and offer a sixth starter. The plan would offer extra rest for Kennedy, who has battled rotator-cuff fatigue for the last month, and for left-hander Jason Vargas, who will start Sunday and whose performance has flat lined in the second half.

Yost revealed Kennedy’s shoulder issues in late August. The discomfort surfaced again on Friday in an 8-5 loss to the Minnesota Twins. It remains unclear whether Kennedy will make his next start Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium.

“I’m not incredibly optimistic that he’s going to make it,” Yost said.

Yost said he was not ready to discuss options for a potential spot starter. The club could use internal candidates Eric Skoglund or Onelki Garcia, who have both struggled mightily in recent starts.

Rookie Sam Gaviglio is scheduled to make another start on Tuesday against Chicago. The final rotation spot belongs to Jason Hammel, who will start Monday and represents the one consistent performer in the second half.

Royals manager Ned Yost was happy with rookie Jakob Junis' 6 1/3 inning performance in the 5-2 win over the Twins on Sept. 9, 2017 at Kauffman Stadium.

Duffy, who is recovering from a pronator strain in his left elbow, will throw a two-inning, simulated game on Monday at Kauffman Stadium. That could position him to return to the mound in Cleveland next weekend, Yost said.

After a four-game series in Cleveland, the Royals will have their final day off of the season in Toronto before opening a three-game series against the Blue Jays on Sept. 19. The club could turn to a six-man rotation after that date. Duffy, who was recently cited for driving under the influence in Overland Park, is also scheduled to make his first appearance in municipal court on Sept. 19.

Danny Duffy talks about a DUI citation he received in Overland Park.

“I am planning out or thinking about getting to the off day,” Yost said, “which would then automatically give everybody an extra day, and then just going on a six-man the rest of the way to give everybody the extra day for the rest of the year.”