Analyzing The Phillies: Kyle KendrickBREAKING NEWS, News, Phillies Thursday, November 8th, 2012
Kyle Kendrick was expected to be a valuable, versatile, reliable arm that could pitch in a variety of roles for the Phillies. The righthander was coming off of one of his best seasons as a pro, during which he posted an 8-6 record with a 3.22 ERA pitching as a starter and out of the bullpen.
The Phillies were impressed with how Kendrick was able to adjust well to bouncing back between the rotation and the bullpen, and rewarded him with a two-year contract extension before the season.
Kendrick went on a wild, up and down ride during the 2012 season, but when all was said and done he finished the season as one of the hottest arms on the pitching staff.
Kendrick started out the season in the bullpen, but was quickly forced to go into the rotation after injuries forced Cliff Lee, Vance Worley, and Roy Halladay to spend time on the disabled list.
In the early stages of the season, Kendrick was reasonably effective, going 1-2 with a 2.89 ERA in May, including a complete game shutout of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Things then fell apart for the young pitcher, as he struggled through a horrid month in June where he went 1-4 with a 6.96 ERA. Fortunately for Kendrick, the team’s injured starters began to get healthy and he was removed from the otation to return to the bullpen.
Upon his return to the role of reliever, the clouds began to part for Kendrick. He didn’t allow a run in any of his eight appearances in July, tossing 15 scoreless innings. He then received another crack at a job in the rotation after the team traded Joe Blanton to the Dodgers.
Once he returned to the rotation, Kendrick began to pitch the best baseball of his career. He went 4-1 with a 2.89 ERA in six starts in August. He pitched into the seventh inning or longer in six of his final 11 starts, and finished the year with an 11-12 record and a 3.90 ERA.
Kendrick showed last season that he’s capable of pitching at a more than respectable level. The trick for him is that he needs to keep himself focused on the mound.
Kendrick could learn a lot from his teammate Cole Hamels. Hamels used to have trouble maintaining his focus on the mound, and occasionally he would allow himself to become frustrated when things weren’t going his way. When a pitcher loses his cool, his lack of focus makes him much more likely to make mistakes and set opposing offenses up for big innings. This used to be a problem for Hamels, but he’s matured to the point where the little things are no longer an issue for him.
Kendrick’s problem with focus is similar to Hamels. During this past season, #38 would occasionally let boos from fans frustrate him and impact his performance. After a start where he lasted just 3.1 innings against the Braves, he commented on how the fans treat him.
“I guess that’s how it is with me,” Kendrick said. “It’s, ‘What have you done for me lately?’ You always want to pitch well. Yeah, it was a bad outing. I have to move forward.”
After that game, Kendrick stopped focusing on whether he heard boos or cheers coming from the stands, and only worried about what he could control on the mound. With his focus up, he was the team’s most reliable pitcher for over a month. If he could sustain that focus in the future, he could be a quality starter for any team. He’ll never be an ace, but if he keeps himself strong mentally there isn’t any reason that he couldn’t be a successful fourth starter in this league.
Kendrick will enter Spring Training in competition for a spot in the back of the rotation with Vance Worley and Tyler Cloyd. If he doesn’t win a spot in the rotation, he’ll be counted on to come out of the bullpen once again. He might never be a centerpiece of a pitching staff, but a versatile arm like Kendrick is a nice piece to have on any team.
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