Left-hander Danny Duffy suffered a setback while throwing a bullpen session on Friday, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told The Los Angeles Times’ Mike DiGiovanna (Twitter links) and other reporters. The setback is related to Duffy’s left elbow, which is a particularly ominous sign considering that a flexor strain has kept Duffy from pitching since July 16.
As a result, the Dodgers have shut Duffy down from throwing. According to Roberts, “it doesn’t look great” that Duffy will pitch again in 2021: “Outside of any type of miracle, for him to impact us this year, it’s going to be tough.”
Despite Duffy’s injury, the Dodgers still acquired the southpaw from the Royals in a trade on July 29. The thought at the time was that Duffy would be able to pitch by mid-to-late August, though Duffy’s move to the 60-day injured list on August 9 pushed that timetable back to September 18 (based on Duffy’s initial IL placement when he was still a Royal).
This is Duffy’s second IL trip due to a flexor strain this season, with his first absence lasting close to five weeks. It was already looking like Duffy might be used as a multi-inning reliever rather than as a starter for Los Angeles, given the lack of time remaining to get Duffy’s arm strength fully ramped up for starting work. Even if Duffy get healthy enough to resume throwing and the Dodgers did extend their season with a lengthy run into the postseason, it would seem far-fetched that L.A. would devote a postseason roster spot to a pitcher coming off such a long absence.
Since Duffy’s contract is up after the season, it is quite possible his Los Angeles tenure will end without an official pitch thrown in Dodger Blue. Duffy had control over his trade deadline destiny due to his 10-and-5 rights, and the Southern California native chose to accept a deal to return close to home and chase another World Series ring. The Dodgers only gave up a player to be named later in exchange for Duffy (the Royals kicked in money to cover the approximate $5.4MM remaining in the lefty’s 2021 salary), so the trade ultimately goes down as something of a missed opportunity, rather than a true misfire on the Dodgers’ part.
These elbow injuries will also very likely have an impact on Duffy’s free agent market, particularly if he has to eventually undergo some kind of procedure to correct his elbow issues. Between the injuries, Duffy had a 2.51 ERA over 61 innings with the Royals this season, though his advanced metrics weren’t impressive.