Kyle Kendrick has quietly started 123 games for the Philadelphia Phillies during the past six seasons. As Charlie Manuel’s squad attempts to rebound into the postseason, “KK” has never more important to the pitching staff.
The term “swing man” basically means that a pitcher is good enough to be on the 25-man roster, but not effective enough to play a lead role. Kendrick’s career reflects someone who the organization believes in to a certain degree.
Only hardcore Phanatics would know that this seventh round 2003 amateur draft pick started 30 games for the Phillies during their 2008 World Series season. The crafty right-hander won 11 games that season, but made no playoff appearances. In 2010, he started 31 games, won another 11 games, but again was not seen in the playoffs. The only time in his career that Kendrick has felt that rare fall air was when he started one game against the Colorado Rockies during the 2007 National League Division Series.
Considering the number of superb starting pitchers the Phillies have obtained in recent years, it’s completely understandable that Kendrick wasn’t part of the team’s top 5 mound men in 2011, or a full-season member of the rotation last year.
General manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. telegraphed his feelings regarding this veteran’s future importance however, when he extended his contract for two years at a combined amount of $7.5 million prior to the 2012 season.
Last summer’s trade of Joe Blanton to the Los Angeles Dodgers and this off-season’s trade of Vance Worley to the Minnesota Twins allowed Kendrick to move from sixth to fourth on the Phillies’ rotational depth chart. Heading into a season where number-three starter Roy Halladay’s health is in question, this loyal staff member’s importance has never been higher.