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Kyle Kendrick still serves a role on the Phillies

Kendrick blasted Monday night in Phoenix, Phillies lose 9-5

Forgive me readers, for I was wrong.

AP Photo

Back in February when the Phillies signed Kyle Kendrick to a two-year extension I was supportive of the move, believing that Kendrick plays an unheralded position on the Phillies as a long-reliever capable of making a spot start or two when called upon. I figured for a total of $7.5 million through the end of 2013, there were worse ways to spend that money. Weren’t there?

Then Cliff Lee was thrown on the disabled list, tying Charlie Manuel to use Kendrick in the series opener last night in Arizona. Kendrick was shelled early, as though the Diamondbacks were taking batting practice, and lasted just three innings. Arizona, who before this week had scored ten runs in a recent five-game losing streak, jumped all over Kendrick with extra base hit after extra base hit, tacking on four runs in the first inning, two more in the second inning and one final run in the third inning. Of course, when your offense is showing a lack of ability to produce runs, Monday night was one of those nights you turn the TV off early and get some sleep.

I have been under the weather and battling a nagging cough, so thank-you Kyle for that.

I will suggest that Kendrick be given a second chance on the mound as a starter before he is totally blasted. While his 9.39 ERA and 2.478 WHIP are astronomical early on, Kendrick was thrown in to a tough spot Monday night. Filling in for Cliff Lee is a pressure situation, especially when the offense failed to score a run in ten innings Lee’s last time out. The offensive struggles should not be used as an excuse for allowing all of the hits and runs Kendrick gave up, of course, but Kendrick does seem to be the type of pitcher that finds it difficult to handle the pressure. Having watched Kendrick dating back to 2007, he has shown a knack for getting rattled on the mound as a starter and reliever. He may be coming off his best season with the Phillies (8-6, 3.22 ERA, 1.221 WHIP in 2011, all career bests), but history has proven Kendrick to be a far more effective reliever than starter.

In 99 games as a starting pitcher for the Phillies, Kendrick has a career 38-28 record with a 4.59 ERA and 1.402 WHIP. His strikeout to walk ratio is 1.68 an he has given up 79 home runs and hit 31 batters. Compare that to his 33 appearances as a reliever, in which Kendrick’s career numbers include a 5-3 record, a 3.25 ERA, a 1.09 SO/BB ratio, and just two home runs served up.

To paraphrase Manuel, “What it is is what it is,” with Kendrick. He is nothing more than a reliever at the major league level. After five seasons of professional experience, we have rarely, if ever, witnessed Kendrick take on a starter’s mentality. It is unfair to compare Kendrick to the likes of his teammates like Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels, but can you compare him to what Vance Worley has done since being used as a starter? Worley has the confidence you need on the mound from a starting pitcher. He shows it with his demeanor on the mound and he plays with a bit of a swagger (it does remain to be seen if Worley gets hit with a sophomore slump, I’ll give you that). Kendrick just looks nervous for whatever reason. He really should not be. The Phillies, a franchise with five consecutive division championships and a World Series ring, have kept him on their roster for the entire stretch. The only other players on the roster from the 2007 NL East division championship team are Cole Hamels, Carlos Ruiz, Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino.

So Kendrick needs to relax. He is a part of this team. He is not good enough to be in the starting rotation, but he does serve a role on the club. Sometimes he will be asked to start a game. In those rare spots, he needs to come through better than he did Monday night.

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