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Danny Duffy to undergo elbow surgery

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Royals’ left-hander Danny Duffy will undergo elbow surgery on Tuesday, per Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star. It’s expected to be a relatively minor procedure to remove loose bodies in his elbow and should allow Duffy to make a full recovery before spring training in 2018.

Duffy completed his seventh campaign with the Royals on Thursday, earning his 10th loss of the season with 4 1/3 innings of six-hit, four-run ball against the Tigers. The 28-year-old lefty spent close to two months on the disabled list with various injuries, including a left oblique strain and flexor-pronator strain in his elbow. He never fully recovered from the bout of inflammation in his left elbow and finalized his season stat line with a 3.81 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 over 146 1/3 innings.

The good news: Duffy should be on track to re-enter the Royals’ rotation in 2018, barring any unforeseen setbacks. Hopefully, it’ll be a turnaround for the southpaw after chronic injuries and multiple surgeries ate away at his playing time over the last seven years. He signed a five-year, $65 million extension with the club back in January and is slated to receive $14 million next season.

The Astros gave the Yankees an opening. Keuchel and Verlander will try to close the door.

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If Game 4 of the ALCS had been even remotely conventional, it’d stand at 3-1 in favor of Houston right now. The Yankees’ starter pitched well but got no run support. A mighty Astros team with an ordinarily good closer in Ken Giles had a 4-0 lead in the late innings. As the Yankees set out to mount a comeback, a base runner fell down in between first and second and should’ve been dead to rights. This is playoff baseball, however, so stuff, as they say, happens. The runner was safe, the closer struggled, the Yankees rallied and now we’re tied 2-2.

But are we even at 2-2?

On paper, no, because the Astros now will send Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander out in Games 5 and 6, and that gives them a clear advantage. Keuchel dominated the Yankees in Game 1, tossing seven scoreless innings and striking out ten batters. Verlander struck out 13 batters in a 124-pitch complete game in which he allowed only a single run. Beyond the mere facts of the box scores, however, the Yankees have looked profoundly overmatched by both of the Astros’ aces, in this postseason and on other occasions on which they’ve faced off against them. Most notably in the 2015 wild-card game at Yankee Stadium when Keuchel pitched six scoreless innings in the 3-0 victory.

But remember: stuff happens.

Stuff like Aaron Judge‘s and Gary Sanchez‘s bats waking up. The two most important sluggers in the Bombers lineup combined to go 3-for-6 with two doubles, a homer, a walk and five RBI in last night’s victory. Each of them had been silent for the first three games of the series but if they’re heating up, the Yankees will be a lot harder to pitch to.

Stuff like Masahiro Tanaka showing that he can tame the Astros’ lineup. Which he did pretty well in Game 1, giving up only two runs on four hits in six innings. He was overshadowed by Keuchel in that game, but it was a good performance against a strong lineup in a hostile environment. Tanaka pitches much better at Yankee Stadium than he does on the road, so don’t for a second think that the Astros bats will have an easy time of it today.

Stuff like the Yankees bullpen still being the Yankees bullpen. Yes, the Astros got to David Robertson yesterday, but it’s still a strong, strong group that gives the Yankees a clear advantage if the game is close late or if they hold a lead.

All of which is to say that we have ourselves a series, friends. While, 48 hours ago, it seemed like we were on our way to an Astros coronation, the Yankees have shown up in a major way in Games 3 and 4. If you’re an Astros fan you should feel pretty confident with Keuchel and Verlander heading into action over the next two games, but we have learned that absolutely nothing is guaranteed in the postseason.