If there was ever a place for Ian Kennedy to really succeed, it’s probably out west with the San Diego Padres.
New York Yankees fans who’ve been watching the hurler struggle to make headway in the Bronx along with Phil Hughes (who has his chance to start his own redemption story this offseason) know this already, and even though his time with the Arizona Diamondbacks gave the baseball world a look at what he was capable of in the NL with a breakout 5.0 fWAR season in 2011, San Diego should bring out even more from the 28-year-old.
But wait, isn’t one of Kennedy’s biggest problems his penchant for giving up home runs (1.31 HR/9 in 2013, 1.08 over career)? And didn’t Petco move their fences in to the point where they’re now only in the middle of the pack (16th with 0.941 HR park factor in 2013) at suppressing long balls … doing so even less effectively than Chase Field (19th at 0.906)?
The answer to both of those questions is yes, but the thing is … the Padres offer a spacious park that will do a little more than that.
Sure, so maybe balls over to right-ish side field now has a bit more of a chance at getting out, but the fact remains that the still-spacious dimensions at Petco makes it one of the best parks at suppressing offense. Only one ballpark in 2013 has suppressed hits better than the Padres’ home park at a park factor of .903, and only Dodger Stadium has a lower factor for runs.
In short, Petco remains a something of a pitcher’s haven; and for an arm with fly ball tendencies like Kennedy, that can only be good news even he has regressed a bit this season, especially in the control department (3.48 BB/9, a four-year high).
What the Padres will get though, is a pitcher in his prime with a fairly impressive floor who might be on his way to his third 200-inning season in a row, and someone who has shown consistency in his peripherals.
Kennedy will get his 8.00 K/9 or so, give up a few hits here and there, and unlike his time in Arizona this season, he is more than likely going to return to outperforming his FIP with the Padres. That is, unless you think that his 66.5 percent strand rate is anything more than bad luck, anyway.
And his ceiling? Well, I think we all know that already.
This is not to mention that he’ll have the benefit of the San Diego curtain too, not to say that Kennedy is necessarily unable to thrive under pressure.
As a number of their current starting pitchers unlikely to return in 2014 (mostly because they haven’t been very good), the formerly pitch-first Padres needed pitching even before the 2013 season started. With a new rotation that will be anchored at the top by Kennedy and the promising Andrew Cashner (and if Eric Stults can keep doing his thing), the Friars will be back in business in that department sooner rather than later.