Flanny’s Five: Royals dodge a bullet with Duffy, prepare for showdown in Motown

Danny Duffy's ailing left shoulder is structurally sound and he might pitch again this season.

Bill Streicher/Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals got some good news on the Danny Duffy front: His MRI came back Sunday night and showed that his ailing left shoulder is structurally sound.

The MRI indicated Duffy has rotator-cuff inflammation, and the Royals said Duffy will not make his next scheduled start Thursday against Boston. It seems likely that right-hander Liam Hendriks will make that start, although left-hander Brandon Finnegan also could be summoned early if Hendriks struggles.

Duffy left Saturday’s game after just one pitch with what team officials then called shoulder stiffness. He flew back to Kansas City on Sunday for the MRI. He will be re-evaluated again in three or four days, but it appears he and the Royals dodged a bullet, and that Duffy might be able to pitch again this season.

PRESSURE ON ROYALS

The real question regarding the first of two critical three-game sets between the Royals and Tigers is: Which team is feeling more pressure?

The Royals hold a two-game lead in the AL Central. If they win just one of these next three games, they will come home for a 10-game homestand still in first place.

But that also means there will be pressure on the Royals not to get swept, which not only would relinquish their lead in the Central, but also forfeit all the momentum they’ve built up from the past month.

Fans in Detroit are restless, and many are calling for manager Brad Ausmus’ job if he doesn’t lead the Tigers into another postseason.

But the guess here is that the pressure is still on the Royals. They are newcomers to this September playoff push. The Tigers are grizzled and have been there many times before. They will not panic.


SMELLING SALTS FOR THE OFFENSE

This two-week funk the Royals’ offense has been in simply can’t continue if they are to stand a chance in Motown.

Could the playoff-chase pressure be getting to Royals hitters?

Since that 3-1 loss to Texas to conclude the previous road trip, the offense has been virtually nonexistent. In that 14-game stretch, the Royals have averaged just 2.5 runs a game. As a team the Royals have hit just .226 with a woeful .275 on-base percentage and a hideous .601 OPS.

Incredibly, the Royals have still won seven games during this stretch to stay in first place. That tells you what a great defense and fabulous pitching staff they have.

But the Royals won’t be playing in October unless the hitters man up and start contributing.

SHUT-DOWN STAFF

Just how good has the Royals’ pitching staff been during this same stretch? In the last 14 games, the Royals have a team ERA of 2.88.

And get this: The Royals have given up just four homers in the last 128 innings. Wow.

WADE DAVIS, MVP?

Not talking league Most Valuable Player, but could Wade Davis be the Royals’ MVP?

He showed his tremendous value again this weekend when he filled in for closer Greg Holland and nailed down harrowing 1-0 and 2-0 wins.

Davis is having what likely will end up being the best relief season in franchise history. He hasn’t given up a run since June 25. Let that sink in for a minute. June 25.

In his last 52 outings, he has a 0.17 ERA.

Davis has been so incredibly good that Royals fans simply assume he will be perfect every time out. That is an MVP.

BILLY’S PLAYING TIME

LET’S GO ROYALS: Check out these photos of fans and the excitement around Royals baseball.

Billy Butler was wary that his playing time might decrease after the return of Eric Hosmer, and he was right.

Since Hosmer came back last Monday, Butler has been benched in four games. Butler started just once in New York.

But you have to believe manager Ned Yost will have Butler in the lineup today. He is a career .430 hitter against Justin Verlander.

And the Royals and their slumbering offense need a big day from Billy.

You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at jeffreyflanagan6@gmail.com.