Every young Dodgers fan wishes for a chance to someday play for their hometown team, but does that dream extend to “suiting up at the rehab facility for two months, but never being active on gameday”?
Perhaps Danny Duffy getting tantalizingly close to helping his city of Los Angeles during a homespun playoff run, but coming up lame at the last second, is an even more devastating outcome than never getting the call at all.
Even a few days ago, Dave Roberts was publicly professing that Duffy might be a devastating weapon down the stretch, if only he could survive one final bullpen session on Sept. 10.
Unfortunately, the long letdown officially petered out the very next day, when the team announced he’d had an elbow issue at the horn, likely ending his season.
Of course, while this new injury is technically breaking news, Duffy was on the shelf when he was acquired, and spent the next month and a half on a slow climb back towards a middle-innings role.
Now we’re back at square one. The gamble, sadly, did not pay off, unless the born Lakers fan delivers one hell of a history-based pregame speech.
Dodgers’ Danny Duffy injury history
It’s not like the Dodgers couldn’t have seen repeated Duffy issues coming, either. Famed for tweeting, “Bury me a Royal” before his KC career even had a chance to take off, the lefty underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012, right as he was on the verge of contributing to a now-contending team.
Due to various ailments, he hasn’t made more than 30 appearances in a season since 2016, moved from a hybrid bullpen role back to a permanent rotation spot following that season. In 2021, everything crested; when Duffy hit the IL with a flexor tendon strain in May, many suspected he’d eventually need a second Tommy John. That doesn’t appear to be the case, but whatever the diagnosis, there seems to be no fighting back now.
And, again, just two days ago, Roberts believed he was about to be adding a “two-inning killer” as a middle-innings playoff buzzsaw.
Despite the dire straits they’ve found themselves in for much of the second half, Los Angeles has done more than just “get by” thanks to some unexpected standout performances from within the farm — Mitch White, thank you.
But that doesn’t make the Duffy deal any less of a catastrophic miscalculation. The Dodgers set out to eat second-half innings at the deadline. They opted for two starting pitching additions; the most high-profile move possible in Max Scherzer, and Duffy, a rehabilitation project whose best-case scenario involved a few weeks at the end of the season. Perhaps they should’ve opted for lower upside, but more availability with their second target? Even a bullpen arm like Luis Cessa, who went from the Yankees to the Reds in a salary dump, would’ve helped soak up more empty space in the middle innings.
Duffy’s Dodgers trajectory has been devastating, considering he was so close to a return. Unfortunately, we’re now situated back where we were before Andrew Friedman had ever pulled the trigger.