2013 Phillies Report Card: Kyle Kendrick

That Kyle Kendrick is only the sixth-longest-tenured Phillies player is more a testament to Cole Hamels‘ ability and the Phillies’ propensity for throwing good money after bad. That Kendrick played for the Phillies from 2007-2011 and managed to throw nearly 600 regular-season innings and make exactly one postseason appearance is reinforcement for what he is: the fifth starter, someone who can take the ball reliably and not get absolutely lit up, but for whom “not getting absolutely lit up” is the ceiling. And that’s fine–I’ve long said that playoff berths have been lost for want of someone like Kendrick, but as the time and resources the Phillies have spent on him (as opposed to seeking out or developing a better option) have piled up, so too has our frustration.

In 2011 and 2012, we glimpsed, perhaps, a new Kendrick, a better Kendrick, a Kendrick perhaps capable of striking out more than a batter every other inning. For the first time, we went into a season viewing Kyle Kendrick as an asset rather than an inconvenience. That didn’t last long.

Kendrick had what could best be described as an up-and-down 2013. It started the first Friday of the season in the home opener, when, after Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay had been lit up in Atlanta, Kendrick took the ball against Kansas City. And he, too, found himself unable to stop the bum rush. Three weeks later, however, Kendrick came up against the New York Mets and threw that bizarre, inexplicable complete game shutout he pulls out of his hat once a year.

And so it went for months–June 3: a complete game win against Miami. Eleven days later, 4 1/3 innings, seven earned runs, 12 baserunners, no strikeouts in Colorado. Then five days after that, 7 2/3 innings, six strikeouts, one walk, one earned run against Washington.

ASIDE: The Kendrick Power Rankings

  1. Anna Kendrick
  2. John Kendrick, Revolutionary War sea captain
  3. Kendrick Lamar
  4. Kyle Kendrick
  5. Kendrick Perkins, Oklahoma City Thunder center/blocking dummy
  6. Lt. Jonathan James Kendrick, the secondary badguy in A Few Good Men, who (SPOILER ALERT) ordered the Code Red.

But as the season wore on, those good outings were harder to come by, at least in part (one presumes) because at some point Kendrick developed tendinitis in his throwing shoulder, an uncharacteristic problem for the normally durable Kendrick. So after Kendrick failed to reach the seventh inning in his last 11 starts, the Phillies decided the itis was bad enough to shut him down in mid-September. And while Kendrick eventually wound up on the 60-day DL, the itis wasn’t bad enough to lead to an ectomy of any kind.

That we can be disappointed in Kyle Kendrick is a good thing, I think. It means he’s raised expectations of his own performance. Scuttlebutt is that the Phillies want to bring him back next season, and fair enough–if he’s healthy, he’ll throw 170 innings with an ERA+ in the 90s, until and unless Jesse Biddle and/or Adam Morgan render him surplus to requirements. And now that Roy Oswalt, Joe Blanton and Vance Worley have moved on (and those three, plus Roy Halladay, have died as well), it’s not like the Phillies have a lot of other options. We hoped for better from Kendrick, but 182 innings of below-average ball wasn’t what killed the Phillies this year. May he recover quickly from his itis and return to form soon.

Grade: C-

Bill Paul Eric Ryan
D+ C C C

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