Ned Yost media session: June 24, 2014

If the Royals are to remain in the win column one night after ending a four-game losing streak, they will have to do so against one of the game’s most prolific starters, fresh off of arguably the most dynamic pitching performance in Major League history.

Clayton Kershaw struck out 15 batters on the way to a no-hitter vs. Colorado on June 18, coming within a fielding miscue of a perfect game, and he will look to continue another Cy Young-caliber campaign tonight in Kansas City.

“It’s a big challenge,” said Royals manager Ned Yost. “He’s one of the best pitchers in all of Major League Baseball, not just the league, but all of the game. He’s absolutely fantastic. So it’s a big challenge, but we will approach it like we do every game.

“He’s a tremendous competitor, he has tremendous make-up. He’s got three, I mean, devastating pitches. A fastball up to 94 miles per hour, power curve, power slider, he mixes in the change-up at times, he controls the running game really well, and he’s got really, really good command.”

Across the diamond, Kansas City will send 25-year-old left-hander Danny Duffy to the hill to oppose Kershaw. Duffy is amid an excellent campaign in his own right, having allowed three or fewer runs in four consecutive starts and seven of nine overall.

“Everybody out here likes to compete,” said Yost. “They like matching up against the best in the business. Danny’s not really competing against Kershaw, he’s competing against the Dodgers lineup, but he will be ready for it.”

Yost said one of the keys to Duffy’s success has been then tightening of his control.

“He’s refined his command,” said Yost. “He goes out every day now, for the most part, every start, and like Kershaw, has a number of plus pitches, power pitches that he’s throwing strikes with. And that’s the key to this game. If you’ve got plus stuff and you can command it, you’re going to be in great shape. Some guys have command and not plus stuff and they do okay. Some guys have plus stuff and can’t command it and they do okay. But it’s the guys with plus stuff and command that are really, really productive.”

Kansas City activated Bruce Chen from the disabled list on Tuesday, sending Tim Collins to Triple-A Omaha to make room for Chen, who will work long relief, on the 25-man roster.

“[Tim] has always been a guy that has commanded his curveball and his change-up,” said Yost. “He could fall behind on his fastball but he had those two plus pitches that could get him through innings. This year, the percentage of breaking balls and change-ups have dropped pretty dramatically, and his ability to throw strikes with them has also dropped. We need him to go and just refine his secondary pitches and get them back in the strike zone.”

Yost said Collins, like Louis Coleman, remains an important piece to the puzzle moving forward.

“We built this bullpen around, of course Greg Holland and Wade Davis on the back end of it, but Kelvin Herrera, Aaron Crow, Louis Coleman, and Tim Collins are an integral part of having a dynamic bullpen down there. We need to get Louis and Timmy both back on track.”

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