Coming into 2011 campaign, there was concern amongst many D’Back fans about the club not having a true ace at the top of the starting rotation and rightfully so.
Dan Haren, the ace of the staff the last couple of years, was traded Anaheim last July without a real replacement for his top of the rotation spot. Ian Kennedy and Dan Hudson although both having good arms, had very little experience at the big league coming into the season.
Despite his limited experience against major league hitters, Kennedy is the clear ace of the staff for Arizona at the moment and possibly for the near future. His season thus far is a clear indication of that.
The right-hander was great last night against the Giants. Kennedy didn’t allow a single run over eight innings of work walking three and striking out eight Giant batters. Unfortunately for Kennedy, the Diamondbacks bats were silenced and failed to give the pitcher any run support in Arizona’s 1-0 loss.
Kennedy’s start last night just continued on with his recent hot streak of pitching. Ever since his poor outing on April 13 against St. Louis, he has been on a tear. Over that time in four starts expanding 30 2/3 innings, Kennedy has allowed only six total runs. He also has 32 strikeouts over that stretch. Not too shabby for a guy who wasn’t expected to be a big time strikeout pitcher coming into the bigs.
Along with your ace pitching well, it is also important for him to keep you in games when he has had less than stellar stuff. When Kennedy is on the mound, the Diamondbacks are 5-3 so far in his eight starts. In two of those losses, which includes last night against San Francisco, Kennedy pitched well enough to win, but his team failed to give him enough run support. Arizona could just as easily be 7-1 in Kennedy’s starts and the young pitcher would have more than the three wins that he has currently.
Now will Kennedy continue to be this team’s ace? That of course remains to be seen. Overall, Hudson has better staff compared to Kennedy and his makeup is probably a bit more suitable to be a staff ace. Kennedy is more of a natural two or three in the rotation. Arizona’s top prospect Jarrod Parker is also waiting in the wings down at Double A and many scouts expect him to be this team’s number one stater within the next couple of years if he lives up to his billing.
Feel a little more comfortable going forward Diamondback fans. Kennedy may not your prototypical guy at the top of the rotation, but he will suit just fine until either Hudson or Parker are ready to take over.