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Tyler Duffey is Little More Interesting than You Might Think

I dig high 90 fastballs more than anybody, but a lot of those young and quality hard throwing sleepers are long gone in our leagues. We need to find some boring guys to stay competitive at this point, and I believe Tyler Duffey is just the guy.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

It sure feels like still very early in the season, but we already have played 560 games, which mean we are almost through the first quarter of 2016. At this point, the most of the interesting breakout candidates such as Vince Velasquez, Rich Hill, and Drew Pomeranz are all long gone in most of your leagues. If you picked one of those guys up, you should be already feeling good about yourself.

For those of us who weren't fast enough to act, we still need to find ways to win, but there are not too many sexy pickups left to wow our league mates. But luckily baseball is the opposite of football. Our season cannot be determined by few instant weekly splash moves, but it's all about steady, hard, and sometimes boring grinds that will get us to the top in the end (Jose Fernandez also loves to grind, just like us).

Speaking of boring, this is the time our approach to the game should start to change. We can no longer hit home runs, but we still can find ways to hit singles or occasional doubles constantly to improve our team step by step. I believe Tyler Duffey could be your next double.

I usually don't like to talk about a guy right after his biggest performance since most of them usually get enough attention without my help. I believe, however, that I still can help you with Tyler Duffey, who is just too boring to be talked about in general. On Sunday (5/15/2016), the Twins right-hander threw a six-inning shutout gem against the Indians. He struck out six while walking just one. Now his season line is outstanding 1.85 ERA, 23 K, and 5 BB in 24.1 IP. Despite his stellar record, he is mostly under the radar for several reasons: 1. He is not a well-known top prospect. 2. He plays for the Twins. 3. He is a right-hander whose fastball averages 89.6 mph. He obviously doesn't have the top tier stuff, but that's why he is still available in most of our leagues, despite his fast start to the season. Now, let me convince you why he is a real deal.

His biggest weapon is the curve ball. He has been using that breaking ball for staggering 43.6% of time this season, which ties at the most in MLB with Drew Pormeranz (2nd Rich Hill 42.5%). Pomeranz, Hill, and Duffey all share a same common problem. They all have a very effective curve ball to get swing and misses for the punch outs, but they lack in their third pitch and fastball velocity. Therefore, they have to rely on their curve ball heavily.

In order to compensate their lack of repertoire, they have to be deceptive. Luckily, Pomeranz and Hill are lefties, and their fastballs move more than anybody in the baseball (which is why they have problems in locating fastballs time to time). It also helps that their fastballs at least hit the low 90s in the radar gun. Unfortunately, Duffey is a righty, and his high 80 mile fastball doesn't move as much as theirs.

Then how come he has been so effective in his first 82.1 IP in the majors? He somehow put together 2.73 ERA, 8.31 K/9, and 2.73 BB/9 since his big league debut last season, and it's because he has been so good at mixing his two different fastballs. His fastball might not look anything special in our naked eyes, but he is one of the few pitcher who uses two-seamer and four-seamer almost equally (4-seam 26.2%, 2-seam 23.9%). According the Pitch F/X, his each fastball moves -3.1 and -7.9 horizontally (if you are new to the Pitch F/X, this article is a great source to learn more. For now, you only need to know that bigger negative means more break towards the left-handed hitter side). The 4.8 difference in those two pitches' movements are pretty significant. In 2016, there are only 5 starting pitchers in the majors, who uses both fastballs more than at least 10% and shows bigger than 4.8 movement difference: Sonny Gray, Bartolo Colon, Tyler Chatwood, John Lackey, and Jered Weaver.

Okay, none of them are pitching outstanding this season. Nevertheless, the important part is that none of these guys were ever  known for their velocities, but they somehow put together a string of respectable seasons before. Therefore, Duffey's 89.6 mph fastball is possibly a lot more effective than it looks. Plus, his two different fastball's velocities are almost identical (4-seam 89.7 mph, 2-seam 89.4 mph), which would make just harder for the hitters to put their bats on the center because they can never guess correctly which fastball is on the way. Once he induces two weak contacts to get ahead of the count using the fastballs, then he can use his big curveball to take care of the business (None of those five guys have Duffey's curveball, which is why their K-rates had never been as impressive as Duffey's).

In baseball, it never hurts to throw harder, and that's why the guys like Noah Syndergaard and Aroldis Chapman hog the Twitter timeline. Reading the radar gun is the most fascinating part of the baseball, but it won't give you any advantage since everybody knows how to read number 95. We have to go beyond the speedometer to beat our friends, and Tyler Duffey could just be the guy.

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