NEW YORK -- The Royals will get a boost to their rotation this week when Danny Duffy returns from the injured list to make Wednesday’s start against the Yankees, manager Mike Matheny announced ahead of Tuesday’s series opener. A corresponding move on the 26-man roster will be made then.
Duffy has been on the IL since May 17 with a left forearm flexor strain, an injury that he battled through over his first few starts, which also happened to be one of the best stretches of his career. The veteran lefty posted a 1.94 ERA in seven starts (41 2/3 innings), holding batters to a .222 average.
That’s where he wants to be when he takes the mound Wednesday.
“My expectation is to take it one step at a time and hopefully pick up right where I left off,” Duffy said. “That’s what I’ve worked so hard for, and that’s my expectation every time out regardless of how much time I’ve had off.”
As excited as he is to make his return, Duffy will be limited in his first start since May 12. Instead of going on a rehab assignment to build up innings, the 32-year-old will do it on the job for the Royals, in part because they need another starter as they begin a stretch of 20 games without an off-day.
There isn’t an announced pitch or innings count, but Duffy threw two innings (around 40 pitches) in his last simulated game and will likely build from there.
“I’ve been ready for a while,” Duffy said. “I’ve been pushing. I’m really thankful they didn’t send me off on a rehab assignment. I think I can get outs here right now and be good and be great for this team and be a benefit. But I’m glad they’re of that mindset too. Our manager and coaches and training staff are comfortable with me going right out of the chute and trying to get things done.”
Since Duffy has been out, he’s watched the Royals break out of an 11-game losing streak, go on a 13-6 run and then lose 11 of 12 before taking two of three from the Red Sox last weekend. He’s also seen some younger pitchers, like Jackson Kowar, Kris Bubic and Brad Keller, go through rough stretches. So even as he builds up, Duffy can be a stabilizing force in a rotation looking for consistency.
“The guys have been playing their butts off, but it’s been hard to not be a part of it,” Duffy said. “So I’m really excited to come back. I’ve missed being active, I’ve missed doing my job and feeling like I’m earning my keep. I love being out there, and I’ve missed it.”
Eyes on Singer
The Royals watched starter Brady Singer closely in Tuesday’s start against the Yankees as the right-hander deals with right shoulder tightness that caused him to throw just three innings (51 pitches) last week. The tightness hasn’t been something that’s caused Singer to take any time off, but with the workload jumping from the 60-game season to a full season, the Royals will do anything to protect their young arms.
Singer, 24, worked 3 2/3 innings Tuesday night, allowing two runs (on solo homers) and five hits with five walks and five strikeouts. He was removed after throwing 96 pitches (54 for strikes).
“We’ve got our antenna way up on how he feels,” Matheny said before the game.
• Left-hander Angel Zerpa, the Royals’ No. 28 prospect per MLB Pipeline, was promoted to Double-A Northwest Arkansas and made his first start there Tuesday night. The 21-year-old, who is on the Royals’ 40-man roster, was 4-0 with a 2.59 ERA across eight starts with High-A Quad Cities to start the season.
• In MLB’s latest All-Star voting update released Monday, catcher Salvador Perez maintains a significant lead on American League catchers with 1,391,586 votes. Voting for Phase 1 ends Thursday, and the top three vote-getters at each position (top nine outfielders) will advance to the second phase of voting to determine who makes the All-Star teams and starts for each league. Whit Merrifield was ranked sixth among AL second basemen as of the latest update.