For the first time in his Major League career, Kyle Kendrick is heading into the season with a spot in the Philadelphia Phillies‘ starting rotation. His first appearance of the spring came Tuesday against the New York Yankees. In two innings, Kendrick allowed three hits and an earned run, but he is more focused about working on pitches than results in the spring.
His change-up and cutter were his two main go-to pitches last year. The cutter is something that he has developed over the past few seasons with plenty of aid from teammate Roy Halladay. The change-up is a pitch that Kendrick will say he should have used more often in previous years. Put it all together, and Kendrick’s 2012 was enough for him to head into the season as the team’s fourth starter.
He ended up with the highest K/9 rate of his career last year at 6.55, after just 4.63 K/9 in 2011 and 4.18 in 2010. He finished 2012 with an 11-12 record and 3.90 ERA, with 25 of his 37 appearances being starts. From August through the end of the season, opponents hit .226/.266/.385 off of Kendrick.
Those numbers are critical because that was when Kendrick was handed the keys to be a full-time starter. He has been brought back and forth between the rotation and bullpen over the past few seasons, and has seen his fair share of spot starts, but now has secured a full time job. In the past, Kendrick simply couldn’t keep his spot in the rotation because he was not a strikeout pitcher. Now, he’s not going to go out and strike ten guys out every game with the development of a new pitch, but his work on his secondary pitches proves that he knew he had to make some changes.
Kendrick is hoping that the adjustments he has made (the change-up and cutter) allow him to stick for good in the Phillies’ rotation. If he reverts back to his former self, he will have a tough time staying in the rotation throughout the entire season. However, going into the year with a little bit of job security should help Kendrick rest easier at night.