You may not have seen this one coming.
Barely a month after being diagnosed with a strained forearm flexor, without being sent on a formal rehab assignment, Danny Duffy is set to return to the Royals rotation Wednesday.
You remember at the time of the injury, he was on the ascent, having ramped up his fastball to its highest average velocity since his career-best 2016, when he went 12-3 with a 3.51 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 9.4 K/9. His numbers so far this year are much better than that.
It may be surprising, then, to learn that he's actually available in a quarter of CBS Sports leagues -- and perhaps many more than that on certain other sites. The presumed severity of the injury likely had something to do with him being dropped, as did the lack of status updates ahead of this abrupt return.
More than anything, though, Duffy was probably just a casualty of the onslaught of injuries we've seen in the weeks since he went down, getting crowded out of an IL spot in leagues where he might have otherwise remained stashed. Now, he gets to help resolve the attrition at starting pitcher rather than contribute to it.
Danny Duffy SP
TEX Texas • #24 • Age: 34
You see the kind of numbers he put up in his first seven starts, along with a swinging-strike rate (14.2 percent) that would now rank 13th among qualifiers -- and it wasn't tied to any spin increase, if that's what you're thinking. Of course, there's no telling if he'll sustain the velocity bump following his injury, and you'll need to be patient with him anyway given that he skipped out on a rehab assignment, instead throwing 40 pitches in a recent bullpen session.
TOR Toronto • #68 • Age: 30
Jordan Romano picked up just his fourth save of the season Tuesday and his first for the entire month of June, but nonetheless, I have every reason to believe he's the Blue Jays closer. Everyone else who was in the discussion at one point has disqualified himself by now, and the right-hander has been used to finish out games for basically the past month. The reason he doesn't have more saves to show for it is just bad timing. The Blue Jays have made a habit of winning by more than three runs, and when a save chance did finally present itself Sunday, Romano was unavailable, having worked two innings the day before, which opened the door for Tyler Chatwood to steal one.
SF San Francisco • #48 • Age: 33
The better time to pick up Ross Stripling would have been last week so that you could activate him for two favorable matchups this week, the first one resulting in Tuesday's gem. Still, he has a 2.29 ERA, 0.85 WHIP and 9.2 K/9 over his past six appearances, which offers some hope he can keep it going, especially given his history as an All-Star-caliber pitcher with the Dodgers. My one hesitation is that the swinging strikes have been lacking apart from one outlier start last time out.
Chris Flexen RP
SEA Seattle • #77 • Age: 28
This latest outing gives Chris Flexen four quality starts in his past five, which amounts to a 2.41 ERA and 0.86 WHIP ... but only 7.0 K/9. And there's the rub. He has, however, seen a spike in swinging strikes over his past two starts -- 33 on 207 pitches for an excellent 15.9 percent rate -- but without a notable change in pitch mix. I'd like to see more missed bats. I'd like to see more ground balls. But with the starting pitcher position being throttled by injuries right now, beggars can't be choosers.
Greg Holland RP
TEX Texas • #40 • Age: 37
Greg Holland's numbers are far from closer-caliber, but they look better if you leave April out of it. And now that he's the author of the Royals' past two saves, both coming in the team's past four games, it pays to see the glass half full anyway. Granted, manager Mike Matheny is never one to stick with a plan for long, but presumed closer Josh Staumont no longer seems to be part of the saves mix, having sat out both games Holland closed out, as well as the two games in between.
Tylor Megill SP
NYM N.Y. Mets • #38 • Age: 27
Who? The 25-year-old's minor-league numbers are actually pretty impressive, buoyed by a fastball that touches 98 mph and a deceptive overhand delivery. Tylor Megill is scheduled to debut Wednesday and is poised to claim Joey Lucchesi's rotation spot if his improvements in eight minor-league starts this year translate to the bigs. The strikeout potential is noteworthy if he can keep the walks down.