Since going 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011, and finishing fourth in the National League Cy Young voting, Ian Kennedy has gone 22-22 with a 4.43 ERA over the last two seasons. He struggled enough early last season (3-8 with a 5.23 ERA over 21 starts) that the Diamondbacks traded him to the San Diego Padres, and his results weren’t a lot better with his new team (4-2, 4.24 ERA in 10 starts). He did finish the season solidly though, allowing three earned runs or less in four of his five September starts with a 28:7 K/BB ratio over that span (27.2 innings), which lends some hope for a rebound in his first full season in San Diego.
Should fantasy baseball owners expect good results from Kennedy in 2014?
Kennedy’s struggles in 2013 were largely driven by struggles with control (3.6 BB/9) and seeing more of his fly balls clear the fence (13.2 percent home run/fly ball rate). He is definitely a fly ball pitcher (41.7 percent for his career), but his fly ball rate (38.6 percent) actually fell close to where it was in 2011 (39.5 percent) last season and pitching a full slate of home games at Petco Park should help him regardless of any minor fluctuation in that number.
Other than that dramatic spike in walks last season (2.2 BB.9 in 2011, 2.4 BB/9 in 2012), Kennedy’s strike out rate remained steady last season (8.1 K/9, 7.9 K/9 for his career), was 8.6 during his time with the Padres and his other peripherals have remained fairly steady over the last two seasons. The one significant outlier for Kennedy over the last three seasons is his home run/fly ball rate in 2011 (7.7 percent), which looks like a key component of his success that year and is unlikely to ever be repeated even with a move to a much more pitcher-friendly home park.
Kennedy is not the top of the rotation pitcher he looked like he could be two years ago at this time, but he can still be an asset to fantasy owners that look favorably on his situation and maintain reasonable expectations. 10-15 wins with an ERA in the neighborhood of 4.00 and peripherals that won’t dramatically impact his surface stats is a reasonable expectation for Kennedy in 2014, and durability is also an asset for him since he has made at least 31 starts in four straight seasons.
Brad Berreman is a Senior Writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.