Kyle Kendrick will become a two-month old Major Leaguer on August 13. If you hadn’t just read that, you never would’ve guessed he’s just a rookie.
The kid — 23 years old on August 24 — doesn’t have dominating stuff, and he isn’t a menace on the mound like Roger Clemens or Carlos Zambrano are. He throws a high-80’s, low-90’s fastball with heavy sinking action, a change-up, and a slider. Pitching at home in the bandbox known as Citizens Bank Park, a sinkerball is an extremely effective pitch for any pitcher, but especially one who doesn’t strike anyone out. His ground ball rate is extremely high.
In Kendrick’s 11 big-league starts, 8 of them have been quality starts and his quality start percentage ranks 18th in the Majors. Add to that his 119 ERA+ (for comparison, Cole Hamels’ is 122), and you have yourself a quality Major League arm.
Remember, this kid is not even 23 and has a Major League tenure just nearing two months. He was in AA Reading at the time the Phillies called on him, and not much was expected of him. The Phillies had already suffered blows to the starting rotation with the season-ending injury to Jon Lieber, and the potentially season-ending injury to Freddy Garcia.
Everyone in Philadelphia would have been pleased with Kendrick as long as he didn’t turn in Adam Eaton-esque performances. Instead, he’s pitched his way into the team’s 2008 starting rotation most likely (you never know with the Phillies, as Chris Coste earned a spot on the opening day roster for this season, but he started in AAA Ottawa and didn’t get called up until May 14, then was sent back down on May 24).
Looking ahead, here’s what the Phillies’ 2008 rotation could look like:
Free agent/Trade/Brett Myers/J.D. Durbin/J.A. Happ
That’s not that bad, is it?
Thank you, Kyle Kendrick, for not only stabilizing the Phillies’ starting rotation for 2007, but also for 2008.