Eric Skoglund set to start for Royals for first time in 2019
The Royals will swap-out left-handed starting pitchers this weekend as Eric Skoglund will make his first start in the majors this season and Danny Duffy will go on a minor-league rehab assignment.
Skoglund will start against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on Sunday, while Duffy will start Sunday for Double-A Northwest Arkansas on the road against Frisco in Texas.
The Royals recalled Skoglund from Triple-A Omaha prior to Friday’s game and sent left-handed reliever Richard Lovelady to Omaha. Right-handed pitcher Jorge Lopez, who’d made two starts to fill in Duffy’s rotation spot, will move back to the bullpen.
Duffy has been on the injured list with a left hamstring strain he suffered while running sprints in the outfield during a pregame workout at Fenway Park in Boston. He hasn’t pitched in a game since Aug. 3.
“I’m looking forward to it, for sure,” Duffy said on Friday. “We’ve had a lot of travel this week. It’d be a nice reward at the end of the road trip to actually throw baseballs competitively. I’m excited about that.”
Duffy threw two simulated outings, the most recent having come on Tuesday in Baltimore. He threw four innings and 65 pitches in that outing.
He’s expected to throw 75-80 pitches on Sunday, according to Royals manager Ned Yost.
“There’s been a couple instances where I probably should’ve came out of the game or not kept pitching, in hindsight,” Duffy said. “I got hit in the hand and hit in the kneecap and I cost my team, I think, a combined nine runs over two outs after those.
“So I wanted to kinda learn from that after eight seasons, nine seasons in the big leagues (chuckling) and try to not overdo things. I don’t want to go out there and take this out to a game and have something happen where I have to get over to first and have it pull-up again and have it cost me the rest of the season.”
Duffy said he felt like doing another outing would assure he’s physically back to where he can help the team.
Skoglund, who served an 80-game suspension for a violation of the MLB Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, has made 13 starts in the minors this season. He was briefly called up to the majors to provide bullpen depth on Aug. 9, but he did not appear in a game before being optioned to Triple-A Omaha two days later.
“Let’s do it. I’m ready man,” Skoglund said of getting a chance to start in the majors again. “I’m ready to grind. I’m ready to help this team win anyway I can. So it’s been a long time coming for me. The way I ended the year last year was on a high note. I just continue to build off that.”
In his final five appearances (four starts) of 2018, Skoglund posted a 1.33 ERA, 10 strikeouts, five walks, a 0.79 WHIP and held opposing hitters to .157 batting average in 20 and 1/3 innings.
Skoglund, 24, has thrown 73 innings and posted an ERA of 6.04 and a 1.53 WHIP and a .315 opponent’s batting average in his 13 starts this season.
Skoglund allowed two runs on four hits in seven innings in his most recent start for Omaha on Sunday. In his last start before Sunday, Skoglund struck out six and allowed three runs in five innings on Aug. 13.
“Just continuing to mix everything up, keeping the guys off-balance,” Skoglund said of his recent performances. “Ultimately, I’ve felt great the whole time. I’ve just been having some trouble catching some breaks. I haven’t really changed much, just continuing to command my pitches, and the off-speed comes off that.”